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THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 

OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 



THE AUSTRALIAN CRISIS 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2008 with funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



http://www.archive.org/details/australiancrisisOOkirm 



THE AUSTRALIAN 
CRISIS 



By 
C. H. KIRMESS 



LONDON 
THE WALTER SCOTT PUBLISHING COMPANY LIMITED 



First impression, April, 1909. 
All rights reserved. 




PR ' 

Preface f "' r^ . 



T 



suit of an attempt on my part, early in 
1907, to write a magazine article dealing with the 
dangers to which the neighbourhood of overcrowded 
Asia exposes the thinly populated Commonwealth 
of Australia. At that time, my thoughts on the 
subject resembled those of the Australian mul- 
titude : they were disconnected, and more in the 
shape of a vague fear than defined clearly. How- 
ever, when I began to work out my problem, I 
soon recognized that it was too vast for intelligible 
compression within the limits of an ordinary maga- 
zine contribution. I was quite convinced of this 
when the central idea of the book occurred to me 
— the possibility of a coloured invasion of Austra- 
lian territory, organized on such lines that the Aus- 
trahans would be unable to persuade the heart of 
the Empire that there was any invasion. 

This central idea may be termed my only pre- 
supposition, for which reason I have been at pains 
to treat it from every point of view. Granted its 
feasibility, the whole narrative of Parts I and III 
follows as a matter of cold, logical necessity. True, 
the details might vary, but the drift of events would 
be inevitable in the direction indicated. Part II 
is an interlude, which has grown out of my deep 
conviction that Australia would somehow strike 
a direct blow against the invading enemy. It in- 
vestigates also the possibility of success attendant 
upon such an attempt. 

There have been a good many abstract warnings 
of late on the subject dealt with by me. Un- 
fortunately the Australians, who have the repu- 



6 PREFACE 

tation of being a rather imaginative people, seem to 
have no imagination at all where the future safety 
of the nation is concerned. The past warnings 
have been ridiculed as being unwarrantably pessi- 
mistic. One more bald statement would probably 
share the same fate. Apparently the Common- 
wealth can be roused to a sense of its danger only 
by patient investigation of its real position in the 
world and of the possibilities arising thence. That 
has been my purpose. 

My book deals exclusively with realities. For 
this reason it is written in the form of a retro- 
spection from the year 1922 upon events supposed 
to have happened less than ten years earlier, viz., 
in 1912. The nearness of the latter date has 
been decided on deliberately. A deferment of 
action to a later time w^ould have made unavoidable 
the introduction of a fantastical element. No- 
body can guess what the conditions may be even a 
decade hence. My purpose did not require the 
invention of unheard-of war engines or radical 
changes on the map of the world. On the 
contrary, the introduction of new factors, of things 
that do not yet exist, would only confuse the issue. 
But every thinking man can foresee the probable 
poHtical developments of the next few years. I 
show what is possible under the known circumstances 
of the hour almost, to-day or to-morrow. And I 
think if that has no power to compel the citizens 
of the Commonwealth to seriously consider their 
position, no dreadful visions of a distant future will. 

C. H. KIRMESS 

Sydney. 

* This forecast romance is something more than a novel : 
it is a work. So as to secure quicker publication by giving 
larger instalments, it has been decided not to illustrate 
" The Australian Crisis." 



Contents 





PART I 






THE FEET OF CLAY 




f HAP. 




page 


I 


Ships that Pass in the Night . 


9 


II 


An Unadvertised Immigration Policy 


17 


III 


Dancing on a Volcano . . . . 


29 


IV 


Japan Explains .... 


39 


V 


Australia's Reply .... 


48 


VI 


A Study of British Sentiment . 


59 


VII 


Naval Power and World Politics 


70 


VIII 


Colonial Fancies .... 


79 


IX 


Parliament ..... 


87 


X 


Pax Britannica .... 


98 


XI 


Furor Australiensis 


113 


XII 


Pereat ! (The Flaming Elections) . 


. I2S 



PART II 

THE ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

I The March over a Thousand Miles . 
II In Touch with the Enemy 



143 
158 



8 CONTENTS 

CHAP. PAGE 

III The First Campaign .... 172 

IV Retreat and Reinforcement . . . 190 
V The Second Campaign .... 204 

VI The Death Ride ..... 224 

PART III 

BIRTH-PANGS OF TWENTIETH CENTURY 
NATIONHOOD 

I Storm-Clouds Gathering in the West . 233 

II The Mastery of the Goldfields . . 238 

III Clash of Arms ..... 248 

IV Civil War in Australia and its Inevitable 

Result ...... 263 

V Great Britain Garrisons the Northern 

Territory ...... 276 

VI A Transformation Scene in the North . 285 

VII Like Tigers at Bay ..... 297 

VIII Bleeding White ..... 306 

IX Massacre . . . . . . .314 

X Black Christmas — Peace on Earth, but no 

Great Joy for Australia . . . 326 



PART I 
The Feet of Clay 

CHAPTER I 

SHIPS THAT PASS IN THE NIGHT 

IN the evening of April i, 1912, two white men 
were camping upon a sandy rise overlooking 
Junction Bay, Northern Territory, Australia. 
Theirs was a strange presence, at a strange time, 
in those strange surroundings. But it is just as 
well that accident or fate had thrown them there, 
for otherwise this fragment of contemporary history 
— as matter-of-fact and unemotional as all history 
must be — would have been bereft even of a pic- 
turesque beginning. The air was pleasantly cooling 
after sunset, under the influence of a hght eastern 
breeze which wafted along the night sounds of 
many animals from the direction of the lagoon. 
Low in the western sky the crescent of the young 
moon hung just atop of the tall timber. Towards 
the sea everything was very quiet. The sands 
extended far out to where a broad belt of blue mud 
deadened the soft ripple of the receding tide. 

On the high ground, bare but for scattered tufts 
of grass, the men were safe from creeping things 
and mosquitoes. The calm beauty of the night 
invited to a long vigil of smoking and talking. 
Naturally, the Northern Territory — its vastness. 



10 THE FEET OF CLAY 

its present state and future prospects — was the 
topic of conversation. Both men had been 
animated by the same hopes to try their fortunes 
there. Now that only a few pompous formahties 
remained to be gone through before the transfer of 
the enormous, empty province to the Commonwealth 
would be complete, a booming prosperity could not 
fail to come, and they had hastened to the spot 
to be in its van. 

The elder of the two was clearly an Australian 
by birth — tall, darkish, of that looseness of limb 
which denotes the breed. His name was Thomas 
Burt. He was a prospector and miner, and acted, 
like many others, as a self-appointed pioneer for 
British Capital, which was expected to become in- 
terested once more in the great mineral wealth of 
the country. Lately he had explored the district 
south and east of Pine Creek, and returning to this 
place for a spell, he had there made the acquaint- 
ance of his companion, a Yorkshireman, who had 
imported a stock of merchandise from Sydney into 
Port Darwin. 

The two adventurers, attended by Burt's black 
boy, had departed from Port Darwin in a north- 
easterly direction. The Australian scorned beaten 
tracks, and they had headed straight for the wilder- 
ness. Exploration in the season immediately after 
the rainfalls, which had ceased early this year, 
was indeed a rare pleasure. Fresh water was still 
met with in every hollow, and game abounded. 
Bush and jungle looked now their grandest and 
loveliest. Nearer the coast the landscape became 
more brilUant in colour and variety. The fascina- 
tion of the interminable solitudes enveloped them 
until they made up their minds to push right on to 
the sea. They kept as much as possible to the 
watershed, where progress was comparatively easy, 



SHIPS THAT PASS IN THE NIGHT ii 

away from the impenetrable network of creeks 
and flood-channels, overgrown by rank vegetation. 
So it happened, that after a leisurely ride of nine 
days, they emerged upon Junction Bay. 

When the faint gurgle of flowing-in waves marked 
the turn of the tide through the utter stillness, 
Thomas Burt rose to stretch his limbs, and saun- 
tered sleepily along the crest. The night was so 
clear that stars visible just above the horizon 
showed like signal lamps of ships skimming over 
the dark expanse of ocean. But the Australian 
did not look for lights out at sea ; well he knew 
that the course for steamers lay far out of the 
danger-zone of islands and reefs which guard our 
continent to the north, and that proas, junks or 
small traders which might venture closer inshore 
did not waste good oil in those parts. Yet some- 
thing must have caught his attention, for he peered 
out a good while over the murmuring waters. 
Suddenly he gave a sharp whistle, and faced round 
to his mate dozing beside the dying embers of the 
lire. He soundly shook the sleeper, and shouted 
in his ear — 

" Rouse yourself and look over this anthill. 
Take your glass." 

The Yorkshireman stumbled to his feet. Several 
miles out he espied a gleam which unquestionably 
came from a well-trimmed ship's lantern. 

'* It can't be a steamer," Thomas Burt com- 
mented ; " they don't show their noses round here 
for fear of smashing 'em in. As for other naviga- 
tors hereabouts, they have not the reputation of 
burning bonfires on their boats." 

He dropped his field-glass lazily. His friend 
continued watching through his. " I see two 
lights now," he said. 

The Australian re-applied his glass, " It must 



12 THE FEET OF CLAY 

be a steamer, then," he remarked. " They may 
be drifting." 

They kept a silent watch for some time. From 
the shore rose the odour of organic things decom- 
posing in stagnant brine. Again Thomas Burt 
spoke. 

" It's two ships. They kept in hne, but now 
they are steering different courses right into the 
bay." 

The Yorkshireman shivered shghtly in the fresh- 
ness of the small hours. " We might give them a 
fire signal," he said. 

" Steady ! " replied the other. " There's no 
fog. They've passed the bar a long way. Ah ! " 
He gave a little gasp of surprise, for he had dis- 
cerned yet more lights. " It's a whole fleet ; they 
are manoeuvring. There is purpose behind this. 
Our help won't be wanted." 

" Well," queried the Yorkshireman, " what does 
it mean, Mr. Know-all ? " 

The Australian hazarded a conclusion : " I'll 
tell you. The Singapore squadron is on a train- 
ing cruise, though what they are doing here I can't 
guess." 

His friend laughed. " Perhaps a new idea to 
dispose of the scrap-iron ships your people make 
so much row about. Piling them a-top some 
reef." 

At this moment a solitary red rocket shot up 
from the nearest steamer, vanishing in a luminous 
haze. A merry twinkle of lights from the more 
distant ships answered the signal. 

" You see it is a naval affair," said Thomas 
Burt. 

The other had a bright notion. " O, yes," he 
said, " and I can also inform you that it isn't the 
Australian Navy, because it has not been built yet." 



SHIPS THAT PASS IN THE NIGHT 13 

** Lie down flat," whispered the Australian, 
dropping to the ground himself. 

From the leading vessel, which was bearing in- 
shore gradually, and had approached to within 
three miles, the beam of a strong searchlight had 
been flashed on the land, and was now sweeping 
the shore. After less than two minutes' play it 
was masked again. 

Through sand and scant grass the two travel- 
lers shuffled on all fours until they gained the inner 
slope of the rise. The Yorkshireman placed a 
trembling hand on the Australian's shoulder. 
" All this is so unaccountable," he breathed. 

Thomas Burt lifted his head cautiously over the 
crest. The other lights were drawing closer. " Evi- 
dently they know what they are looking for," he 
said, frowning. ** It did not take them long to 
find out, anyhow, since they have not turned on 
that ray again. I wonder if they calculated to 
have unasked eye-witnesses at this performance." 
" But we'll have to think of ourselves, mate," 
his friend broke in. 

The Australian nodded. They covered the ashes 
of their fire carefully with sand. A call, like the 
wail of a night-bird, summoned the black servant, 
who had been soundly asleep near the horses. By 
order of his master he saddled the animals, and 
led them further inland behind some thick scrub. 
The friends examined their guns and pistols, and 
returned to their posts. It was about two o'clock in 
the morning, and the tide was near its highest 
point, almost lapping the base of their look- 
out. 

Five steamers lay in a crescent, stretching east, 
parallel to the beach. From the forecastle of 
each, a motionless, blinding cone of light illumined 
shore and adjacent waters. Although the vessels 



14 THE FEET OF CLAY 

might be two miles distant, an ever-increasing din 
could be heard quite distinctly. Suddenly a 
puffing noise approached, and soon strings of three 
or four boats, towed by squat motor launches, 
emerged into the glare. 

The friends had to pinch each other to make 
sure that they were not dreaming. 

About the unintelligible event, the tropical night 
wrapped her scent-laden cloak, pierced only by 
a soothing, lulling wind and by the gleam of stars 
shining in calm aloofness on the high-vaulted 
firmament. As calmly aloof shone those five 
bluish rays in front of them, pointing the way for 
some dark Power creeping upon the sleeping con- 
tinent with the inevitableness of Fate. So far, 
noise and shadowy glimpses had a curious atmo- 
sphere of detachment about them, as if the scene 
were projected on curling, hissing vapours. 

The spell was rudely broken the instant the search- 
lights beat on the boats, which promptly executed 
a smart manoeuvre. Within a hundred yards 
from shore, the motor launch swung round sharply. 
But the boats had akeady thrown loose from her 
and from each other. On they came nearly abreast, 
still propelled by the impetus of tugging. As this 
relaxed, two pairs of oars shot out of each boat and 
pulled strenuously for the beach. Then, as it 
touched ground, men leaped overboard and dragged 
it upon dry sand. Each boat disgorged about a 
score of occupants, who at once, automatically, 
began to discharge cargo. First, rifles were brought 
out and built together in the pjnramids character- 
istic of all trained soldiery. A multitude of cases 
and bags followed. In five minutes the craft were 
run into the sea again. Three men jumped in, the 
oars started workmg, a file was formed and lines 
were passed between. Some little distance out, 



SHIPS THAT PASS IN THE NIGHT 15 

the launch hovered, waiting ; promptly she caught 
up, the boats hitched up, and back into the gloom 
the mysterious procession puffed. 

The watchers strained their eyesight in vain to 
unravel the identity of these nocturnal immigrants. 
Not more than 300 yards divided them from the 
nearest group. But as the latter was approxi- 
mately interposed between the source of light and 
the observers, it appeared in merely silhouette, in 
black outlines against the surrounding brightness. 
It was evident that strict discipline was being en- 
forced. One man alone gave out commands and 
was hurriedly obeyed. Of his words, it could only 
be made out that they were not English. Soon 
the boats landed reinforcements, ever and ever 
more. AU the men seemed very tired ; they lay 
down in the sand to snatch some sleep. This 
carelessness proved that the new-comers were not 
in the least afraid of any hostile attack. 

When the two friends recognized that they would 
have to await the break of day for closer investi- 
gation, they left their exposed position and returned 
to the horses, which they found fastened to trees. 
The boy w^as away, but he responded to the call 
with little delay. Pointing to the sea he said, 
" Them plurry Chinamen." His senses were sharper, 
perhaps, and his cat-like agility might have got him 
very near to the singular visitors. The men looked 
at one another in silence. Possibly they did not 
dare to give utterance to their secret suspicions 
while there was yet hope. 

At last dawn paled the east. Along the beach 
bugles resounded. Some figures appeared on the 
crest of the rise — still compact black dots against 
the colouring sky. One pointed to the ground, and 
shouted. Others ran to join him. The whites 
knew : the morning glow had revealed their foot- 



i6 THE FEET OF CLAY 

prints, the imprints of hoofs and other traces of 
their camp. 

Now with the abruptness of tropical latitudes, 
day broke gloriously. The first slanting rays of 
the sun lit up many faces on the ridge peering 
anxiously in their direction. But the thicket hid 
them well. Both friends focussed their glasses on 
those multitudinous prying features far off and 
then exchanged their thoughts in a simultaneous 
exclamation : 

" Japanese ! The Japanese ! " A bitter curse 
was added. 

Next moment the horses greeted the morning 
brightness with joyous neighs. Little the brutes 
knew that they were saluting the Rising Sun. The 
animals' cries betrayed the presence of strangers. 
The Japanese rushed to arms, and volley after vol- 
ley was poured into the forest. But the whites 
were safe on their swift horses and glided away in 
true bushman fashion, never exposing themselves. 
Only once they turned back and fired one round in 
reply. One pursuer collapsed, shot down. That 
was Australia's welcome to the invaders. Behind, 
ringing bugle signals died out echoing in the woods 
— a last menace and challenge. On the two ex- 
plorers tore to the south-west, to carry the fateful 
news to the world of white men. 



CHAPTER II 

AN UNADVERTISED IMMIGRATION POLICY 

FOR several years preceding 1912 constant re- 
ports of famine in Japan had reached Europe. 
Travellers had vouchsafed for their accuracy, and 
much money had been collected abroad, especially 
among the sympathetic British. The Govern- 
ment of the Mikado did its best to prove its concern 
and goodwill by continuing an ostentatious policy 
of emigration to its new possessions, Korea and 
Southern Manchuria. But those countries carried 
already laxge populations, and could only absorb 
limited numbers. For this reason the Japanese 
statesmen were compelled to look towards other 
emptier lands, and they began by turning their 
attention to the opposite shores of the Northern 
Pacific. How their bold policy was assailed by the 
white settlers of the Western Canadian and United 
States slopes, and how in the end it had to be aban- 
doned, the present generation remembers well. 
The Eastern Island Empire had to recant its 
claims for equal rights and recognition of its sub- 
jects with the white citizens of American communi- 
ties. Its submission to the inevitable was rewarded 
by the successful placing of a loan of £20,000,000 in 
London, New York, Paris and Berlin. 

Foiled in this direction, yet strengthened finan- 
cially, Japan had leisure to contemplate its failure 
with a view of profiting by its lessons. Publicity 



i8 THE FEET OF CLAY 

had beaten it. Everywhere on the west coast of 
North America there Hved ah'eady too many white 
men, and every move had therefore been detected 
and counteracted swiftly. Japan was indeed in 
serious straits. Cramped for space in spite of vic- 
tory, surrounded by overcrowded or inaccessible 
nations, oversea expansion was its necessity. Still 
suffering from the stress of the Russian campaign, it 
could think of war only as a last extremity. And 
the habitable parts of the globe were divided up 
and strongly held between the White Powers. The 
problem was to discover a district nominally owned 
by one of them where the white man had not en- 
tered into full possession, and had thus not morally 
forestalled the right of other races to settle, as long 
as they were content to do so, under the foreign 
flag ; a district, in other words, where the first 
steps of peaceful Japanese immigration could not 
rouse the fierce indignation which they had caused 
elsewhere. Such a district existed, nearer and more 
convenient to Japan than any other possible field of 
exploitation — the Northern Territory of Australia, 
with its 600,000 square miles and less than 1000 white 
people. 

Japan had long cast longing eyes in that direc- 
tion. Since the end of the year 1906, a steady 
stream of its subjects had invaded Java and Straits 
Settlements. But Java is one of the most thickly 
populated islands in the world ; its acquisition by 
the Mikado would have meant, apart from other 
probable complications, the repetition of another 
and more troublesome Korea. The Straits Settle- 
ments were one of the master-keys of British 
dominion, and were, therefore, well out of Japan's 
reach as conquests. But as stepping-stones to- 
wards the Commonwealth, the temporary penetration 
of both was invaluable. Thus the ambitious Island 



UNADVERTTSED IMMIGRATION POLICY 19 

Empire cautiously felt its way towards its goal, 
until its rebuff elsewhere and the slowly-awakening 
consciousness of Australian public opinion made 
its rulers fearful of being anticipated by an influx 
of State-assisted white settlers into the north of the 
Commonwealth. 

Those developments may have precipitated the 
crisis. But several other facts, which have lately 
leaked out, seem to prove that Japan had selected 
the year igi2 for its descent upon Australia for 
some considerable time past. It is necessary to 
turn to the Island of Formosa for confirmation. Its 
helpless population about this time was said to be in 
such violent ferment (even after more than ten years 
of Tokio administration !) that a strong army of 
occupation was necessary. Tokio intimated further 
that it was desirable under the circumstances to 
isolate the malcontents from the outside world 
and from outside encouragement, and it adhered 
to this policy rigidly, to such an extent that news 
of interest from the little island dependency hardly 
got into the European and American press at all 
in the years just preceding 1912. Formosa seemed 
to be entirely forgotten — exactly as was desired 
by Japan. 

Yet during this period of silence a very special 
system of immigration into Formosa was carried 
on under the direct supervision of the Japanese 
Government. In some respects it was military 
settlement, so that the semi-official admission merely 
strained the truth. But it had several other 
remarkable features. The immigrants were not 
soldiers of the line ; they were reserve men who 
had served a full term, and were now in the very 
prime of life and vigour. People of low stamina 
might pour into Korea, Manchuria and North 
China, but they were carefully excluded from 



20 THE FEET OF CLAY 

Formosa. The plain of Gilan, on the east coast, had 
been chosen for the site of the settlement. It presents 
tropical conditions similar to those of the Northern 
Territory. A still more approximate climate could 
have been met with on the west coast, with its full- 
length expanse of alluvial plains twenty miles wide, 
bounded inland by low hills gradually leading up to 
the Formosan Alps. But it would not have been so 
suitable for the purpose, owing to the openness of 
its geographical situation, facing China, whence it 
had been colonized. Swarms of junks were always 
employed in commerce with the mainland, and 
pried into every corner in the search for profitable 
business. The populous ports were frequented 
by European steamers. So there could have been 
no secrecy for uncommon proceedings. 

The contrast of seclusion on the east coast was 
great. The Chinese had never crossed the moun- 
tains. What population there was consisted of 
half-tamed aborigines, living in stone huts and tor- 
mented by incursions of the fierce, nomadic hunter 
tribes of the hills. Jungle and thick forests en- 
croached on the plain, which is shut off by high 
ranges descending vertically thousands of feet into 
the sea. It rises towards the interior in well-formed 
tablelands hke the Northern Territory, though, of 
course, on a miniature scale. Here the parallel 
ends, for the towering Alps of the Formosan back- 
ground, which send their rushing torrents down 
throughout the years, have no counterpart in tropical 
AustraHa. Yet, on the whole, the cHmatic condi- 
tions are similar. Equal methods of cultivation 
are rewarded by equally generous results in suitable 
parts of both countries. In summer the heat is 
very humid and enervating in Gilan, and people 
who have lived and worked there would feel the 
drier heat of the Northern Territory as relief. Con- 



UNADVERTISED IMMIGRATION POLICY 21 

sidering everything, there can be no doubt that a 
better accHmatizing stage could not have been fixed 
upon on the road from temperate Japan to the torrid 
north of AustraHa. 

At the end of the first quarter, 191 1, several 
thousand Japanese had been concentrated in the 
plain of Gilan. They lived in large sheds at first, 
and were subject to severe discipline. No effort 
was spared to give them a thorough agricultural and 
pastoral training. According to one investigator, 
every twelfth man had passed a special Govern- 
ment course in those branches, and was now ap- 
pointed headman of his fellows, for whose due 
efficiency he was made responsible. Every form of 
suitable cultivation was practised, but the greatest 
care was taken to raise a sufficiency of the neces- 
saries of life, so that the new settlement might 
speedily become self-supporting. Rice, cane, sweet 
potatoes and various vegetables were grown on the 
plain, where goats, pigs, and poultry were also kept. 
The uplands were given over to wheat and other 
cereals, and to the pasturage of horses, cattle and 
sheep. Much attention was paid to the making of 
roads. In short, it seems that no detail was neg- 
lected which might in any way contribute to the 
success of the great enterpise of which the Gilan 
colony was only the preparation. 

Many medical officers looked after the health of 
the settlement, and their exertions kept down fever 
and tropical diseases. Epidemic appears not to 
have occurred at all. A well-planned diet, com- 
bined with thoughtful management, which insisted 
on just the right measure of arduous open-air toil, 
and varied it with regular military exercises, pro- 
moted moral steadiness and healthfulness. Physical 
weaklings were eliminated by a judicious weeding- 
out process, and were repatriated without delay. 



22 THE FEET OF CLAY 

On the other hand, reinforcements continued to 
swell the ranks. These newcomers, stimulated 
by the results already achieved, sought to surpass 
them in their own domain, and a healthy, absorb- 
ing competition between the camps sprang up. 
Nothing could have pleased better the supervisors 
of the experiment. It was certainly a difficult 
task to hold together such huge numbers of vigorous 
men long enough for effective training. Mere 
discipline could not ensure final efficiency. The 
settlers must also be willing to learn, and to that 
end they had to be kept in good spirits. Their 
tempers w^ere, indeed, sorely tried by the inces- 
sant hard work until the introduction of a keen 
sense of rivalry provided a more personal interest 
and added a new zest to their labours. 

Everything went well until the monsoonal 
deluges of autumn prevented field work to a 
large extent. Then, at last, the men began to get 
out of hand. Family instincts could no longer be 
repressed by toil, high promises, and the weeding- 
out of the less disciplined. Small bands deserted 
and roamed the hills searching for wives among the 
natives. As often as not they never returned. 
When the need for female partners made itself felt 
so pressingly, the authorities yielded to it. That 
they had delayed the matter so long, till nearly 
the end of 1911, was part of a deep-laid scheme. 
For the master-minds who had conceived the great 
enterprise were determined to bend even the natural 
passions of men to the service of the cause. 

The invasion of the Northern Territory was 
timed to take place at the end of the rainy season 
(March, 1912), as later events have shown. That 
was obviously the correct moment, allowing the 
immigrants to begin cultivation of the soil forthwith 
and to gather the first harvest in the same year. 



UNADVERTISED IMMIGRATION POLICY 23 

But the official interest did not permit matters 
to rest here. It was desirable to bind the settlers 
to their prospective new homes by stronger ties 
than manual toil and its reward could forge. Only 
one possible way existed by which that goal could 
be attained : family settlement there. This was 
the consideration why the marriage of the colonists 
had been postponed. The idea was that the freshly 
united couples should spend a honeymoon of six 
or eight weeks in the plain of Gilan. Then the 
men were to be hurried off to their final destination, 
there to prepare proper shelter for their wives, who 
would follow a month or two later. During the last 
quarter of 1912 children would be born — natives 
of Australia — whom birthright, that most power- 
ful moral or sentimental claim, would entitle to a 
share in the empty continent. 

A simpler and more thorough method of coloniza- 
tion could not be imagined. It has become known 
to fame as the " Progressive Family System," and 
admirers of Japan have called it its master-stroke 
of policy. The experience of many bitter failures, 
no doubt, led up to the evolution. For instance, 
the American venture suffered from being a mere 
migration of male coolies, with all the imperfec- 
tions and vices attaching to that limitation. Evi- 
dently, a horde of bachelors, transplanted upon 
foreign soil, yet excluded from intermarriage because 
of race prejudice, could not really claim equal 
rights with the citizens thereof who represented 
famihes. Japanese genius had freed the Northern 
Territory settlement of this inherent weakness of 
tenure almost from the outset. 

About the middle of January, every member of 
the huge immigration party, which, according to a 
conservative estimate, numbered now over 6,000 
men, rejoiced in the possession of a wife. The 



24 THE FEET OF CLAY 

young couples lived in wooden huts, constructed 
in advance by the men. The whole plan of accom- 
modation and activity was as nearly as possible 
the prototype of the later Australian colony. The 
dwellings formed isolated villages of about 200 
families each, some placed on the flats, others in 
creek valleys and on the high lands, and linked to 
a larger coastal settlement by roads and telegraph. 
Suddenly the happy communities were alarmed 
by rumours of impending separation. It is likely 
that the men had been informed beforehand (some 
considerable time ago) that they would not remain 
permanently in Gilan. But that may have been 
forgotten. At all events, it seems that the reminder 
came as a rude shock. Still, the men were manage- 
able. Anything can be done with the male Japan- 
ese once his patriotism is inflamed. But the women 
rose in fury. Perhaps they had not been warned 
when wooed by agency. Now, belated reasoning 
had no effect. All those subtle policy points, 
which awed the husbands even if they did not fully 
understand them, were lost upon the women. 
What they felt was that they were threatened with 
the loss of their husbands. The whole weight of 
female influence was brought to bear on the men. 
These grew restless. Contrary to regulations, the 
inhabitants of different villages gathered together 
to exchange views, and soon the whole colony 
seethed with discontent. The officers or headmen 
did their best to reduce their subordinates to order. 
In vain ; the women's influence proved stronger. 
The men began to obstruct the preparations for 
departure ; punishment of the worst offenders led 
to open defiance. One morning, a medical officer, 
going his usual rounds in a village, was set upon by 
a female mob and beaten to death with stones and 
household implements. The headman, rushing to 



UNADVERTISED IMMIGRATION POLICY 25 

his assistance, was wounded and hunted into the 
bush. After that, the officers telegraphed to 
Kelung and to Japan for miUtary help. 

The Government was greatly surprised. Human 
feelings threatened to overthrow its careful calcula- 
tions, because they had not been taken sufficiently 
into account. That dangerous Japanese tendency, 
often commented upon, of regarding men as ma- 
chines, may be right enough where males are con- 
cerned. In the Manchurian war it led to frontal 
attacks against entrenched positions, and yet was a 
success. But now that the principle was extended to 
women it broke down. Quick measures of repression 
were necessary. Already rumours of revolution 
had got abroad. Tokio side-tracked them by a 
cablegram, admitting the existence of trouble in 
Formosa, but attributing it to rural workers and 
miners who had imbibed crude notions of Western 
Socialism. This was also a satisfactory anticipa- 
tory explanation as regards the approaching com- 
centration of steamers in Formosan waters, which 
otherwise might have attracted attention. Every- 
body would now conclude that they were military 
transports carrying troops to the disturbed dis- 
tricts. 

When the punitive force arrived the men had gone 
back to work. It was February, and the fields called 
for industrious hands. Preparations for departure 
were, however, quite neglected. This passivity 
did not prevent vigorous reprisals. The village 
which had given the signal for murder was burnt 
down, and scores of men and women died by the 
executioner's hand. Very soon the men, over- 
awed by wholesome judicial massacre, were thor- 
oughly subdued. The great enterprise was saved 
at the brink of ruin, and full attention could now be 
devoted to the proceeding embarkation. 



26 THE FEET OF CLAY 

Here the marvellous organizing talent of the 
race had full play. A superficial survey of the 
transports, it is true, would hardly have suggested 
fancies of naval glory. They were tramp steamers 
of 2,000 to 3,000 tons, such as usually carry trade 
in Far Eastern seas, capable of a steady hourly 
speed of ten to twelve knots. Everything had 
been avoided which might have betrayed the real 
purpose. The exterior of each vessel was weather- 
beaten and grimy, but inside the greatest order 
prevailed. Each vessel could house 6oo to 8oo men 
in rough comfort. The bulwarks had been raised 
about a foot above the ordinary, which precaution 
gave the steamers the appearance of lying high in 
the water, and would deceive even critical observers, 
for none could suspect that the buoyancy was not 
real, and that every inch of space had been scien- 
tiiically put to the best use. Each craft was 
fitted with wireless telegraph instruments and a 
searchlight. All were coaled sufficient to last for 
the whole distance, but 3,000 tons of best Japanese 
steam coal were shipped for emergencies by a steamer 
carrying the latest appliances for coaling at sea. 
Two swift destroyers acted as guardships and 
scouts. They had been cunningly disfigured to 
look hke small tramps without losing too much of 
their speed. There were also cargo carriers and 
cattle boats, which sailed somewhat later. 

The passage of a fleet through the Dutch Indies 
would have attracted notice. For this reason the 
transports and subsidiaries were despatched by three 
different routes, part passing between the Philip- 
pines and Carolines, thence through Dampier 
Straits, and skirting Ceram ; part through the 
South China Sea and Sulu Sea, rounding the east 
coast of Borneo, and beating east through Flores 
Sea ; and part sailing down West Borneo, entering 



UNADVERTISED IMMIGRATION POLICY 27 

Java Sea, and finding an outlet south through 
Lombok Straits. The collier and one destroyer 
went further west for scouting purposes, intent on 
passing through Sunda Straits into the Indian 
Ocean. As the whole plan had been carefully 
concerted no accidents occurred, but a Dutch 
cruiser sighted the destroyer while coaling at sea 
off Batavia. It happened at daybreak, and the 
Japanese vessels allowed themselves to be surprised. 
Though they separated at once, suspicions had 
been roused already. The destroyer steadily crept 
north, never reveahng its true speed. Such a 
clumsy-looking, slow-going craft was, however, 
beneath Dutch notice, which turned to the more 
imposing collier. The latter boldly showed the 
flag of the Rising Sun, and steered straight for 
Batavia Roads, where she replenished her store 
of water. Her papers were perfectly in order : 
" ss. Honjo Maru, bound for Perth, West Australia, 
with a trial cargo of Japanese coal." Dutch 
misgivings, if they existed, vanished before such in- 
formation. Japanese enterprise was the talk of the 
day ; their coal, perhaps, had not been heard of in 
connexion with Westralia so far, but everybody 
knew of the huge goldmines there, which might well 
look out for cheap fuel. 

The collier left next morning and steamed up 
Sunda Straits, through which dangerous passage 
the destroyer had slipped during the night. To- 
gether they swept the Indian Ocean and Timor 
Sea to the east. Several proas supposed to have 
been in those waters never made port. All the 
routes converged in Arafura Sea, somewhere be- 
tween Timor Laut and the Aroo Group. From this 
meeting-place the fleet made its accurately-timed 
descent, under the shadow of niglit, on Junction Bay. 
The strength of the first landing party can only be 



28 THE FEET OF CLAY 

guessed at. Probably it consisted of about 3,000 
men. It is certain that it was rapidly added to, 
and when the first collision between the races took 
place the number had at least doubled. 



CHAPTER III 

DANCING ON A VOLCANO 

THOMAS BURT and his friend reached Pine 
Creek on April 6, exhausted and dishevelled. 
Their news created such an impression locally 
that a railway engine was placed at their disposal 
to take them on to Palmerston without delay, 
and they arrived there about noon the following day. 
The resident was away, over the Easter holidays, on 
a shooting excursion. His understudy, full of the 
importance of his temporary responsibility, granted 
them a patient hearing. When the bald statement 
of invasion burst upon his comprehension, he paled 
visibly. But the more the story was unfolded to 
his mental gaze, the calmer he grew. It was so 
palpably impossible. By the time it came to an 
end he had ceased to weigh its purport. Instead, 
he was quietly bethinking himself who among his 
kind friends could have invented and enacted this 
hoax. Therefore, to the surprise of his interviewers, 
the Acting-Resident preserved stoic calmness. He 
satisfied his official conscience by taking a prelimin- 
ary record. As it was long after tea-time when he 
had done, he dismissed the friends for the night 
with thanks and a promise that the matter would be 
thoroughly investigated. 

This diplomatic postponement gave the Acting- 
Resident leisure to collect his wits. The result of 
his reflections was that he called, on the morning 



32 THE FEET OF CLAY 

Armada sweeping down from the nortli and dictating 
terms of equality while big guns were trained on 
the Australian capitals. It was something to hear 
a different account for once. Others, of a grumbUng 
disposition, objected to being made the victims 
of an April joke. Even granted that it might have 
been conceived on the first of the month, still that 
was no excuse for ramming it down their throats 
after a week's delay. In short, the laugh had been 
against the warners, and from that moment all their 
efforts to awake Port Darwin to a sense of the real 
danger were doomed to disappointment. 

Two days later the Resident returned. He was a 
a level-headed man, and if he could have heard the 
report first-hand and could have been a witness 
of the earnest sincerity in which it was delivered, 
things might have gone different. Unfortunately, 
he heard it from the understudy, together with Ah 
Ting's denial, and this combination convinced 
him so thoroughly of the preposterousness of the 
assertion that an interview with the two discoverers 
could not change his mind. 

Burt and his friend were now officially hall-marked 
as " jokers of promise, but whose present attempt 
had failed rather badly." As they persisted in 
voicing warnings, the languid Palmerstonians voted 
them bores, and forgot about them. So they 
were pretty much left alone. They diverted them- 
selves by keeping a close watch on Ah Ting, But 
that, too, came to naught. There w^ere no con- 
spirators sneaking about the back door of that 
worthy at night. Just as he piled his goods, Chinese 
tit-bits and knick-knacks, into the front window of 
his neat cottage in the main street to announce his 
business, even so he seemed to wear his unblemished 
character in a glass case open for inspection, with his 
mingled air of childlike blandness and dignified 



DANCING ON A VOLCANO 33 

patriarchalism. Nothing was known of his antece- 
dents ; that was in no way remarkable, for the 
same can be said of all his countrymen up north. 
But he had resided, on and off, for several years in 
the place, and was respected even by the many- 
hued scum. The friends quickly got tired of 
contemplating so much virtue, while painfully 
conscious that their own reputations were under a 
cloud. 

They determined to take the first steamer to the 
south-east. None was due for some time. So they 
had plenty of leisure to study the peculiar conditions 
of which they had become the victims. The fact 
was that tropical Australia was suffering from 
a surfeit of warnings against the Asiatic menace. 
Its white inhabitants had one dominant desire : to 
hear no more about it. The position had been 
looked at from all possible points of view, and had 
been pronounced hopeless from every one. Yet no- 
thing happened. There stretched the vast wastes 
of fertile lands, uncontrolled, open from year's end 
to year's end, at the very threshold of the over- 
crowded North. Nevertheless, only stray indivi- 
duals crossed over, mostly to repent of it afterwards. 
Mongols and Malays who had entered quickly de- 
clined to the lowest levels of degeneration. And 
wherever they came into contact with the aborigines, 
it meant rapid, complete ruin to the latter. The 
vilest corruption spread to them. The death-rate 
of all the coloured races was terrible. 

Sometimes an enthusiast would arrive from civil- 
ized Australia, and would talk for awhile. But 
nobody ever did anything. Soon the microbe of 
drift permeated his blood, and he would become 
as languid as the others. The white population of 
Port Darwin consisted of a set of officials and of 
those who catered for their wants. A few shipping 

A.C. C 



32 THE FEET OF CLAY 

Armada sweeping down from the north and dictating 
terms of equaUty while big guns were trained on 
the Austrahan capitals. It was something to hear 
a different account for once. Others, of a grumbling 
disposition, objected to being made the victims 
of an April joke. Even granted that it might have 
been conceived on the first of the month, still that 
was no excuse for ramming it down their throats 
after a week's delay. In short, the laugh had been 
against the warners, and from that moment all their 
efforts to awake Port Darwin to a sense of the real 
danger were doomed to disappointment. 

Two days later the Resident returned. He was a 
a level-headed man, and if he could have heard the 
report first-hand and could have been a witness 
of the earnest sincerity in which it was delivered, 
things might have gone different. Unfortunately, 
he heard it from the understudy, together with Ah 
Ting's denial, and this combination convinced 
him so thoroughly of the preposterousness of the 
assertion that an interview with the two discoverers 
could not change his mind. 

Burt and his friend were now officially hall-marked 
as " jokers of promise, but whose present attempt 
had failed rather badly." As they persisted in 
voicing warnings, the languid Palmerstonians voted 
them bores, and forgot about them. So they 
were pretty much left alone. They diverted them- 
selves by keeping a close watch on Ah Ting, But 
that, too, came to naught. There were no con- 
spirators sneaking about the back door of that 
worthy at night. Just as he piled his goods, Chinese 
tit-bits and knick-knacks, into the front window of 
his neat cottage in the main street to announce his 
business, even so he seemed to wear his unblemished 
character in a glass case open for inspection, with his 
mingled air of childlike blandness and dignified 



DANCING ON A VOLCANO 33 

patriarchalism. Nothing was known of his antece- 
dents ; that was in no way remarkable, for the 
same can be said of all his countrymen up north. 
But he had resided, on and off, for several years in 
the place, and was respected even by the many- 
hued scum. The friends quickly got tired of 
contemplating so much virtue, while painfully 
conscious that their own reputations were under a 
cloud. 

They determined to take the first steamer to the 
south-east. None was due for some time. So they 
had plenty of leisure to study the peculiar conditions 
of which they had become the victims. The fact 
was that tropical Australia was suffering from 
a surfeit of warnings against the Asiatic menace. 
Its white inhabitants had one dominant desire : to 
hear no more about it. The position had been 
looked at from all possible points of view, and had 
been pronounced hopeless from every one. Yet no- 
thing happened. There stretched the vast wastes 
of fertile lands, uncontrolled, open from year's end 
to year's end, at the very threshold of the over- 
crowded North. Nevertheless, only stray indivi- 
duals crossed over, mostly to repent of it afterwards. 
Mongols and Malays who had entered quickly de- 
clined to the lowest levels of degeneration. And 
wherever they came into contact with the aborigines, 
it meant rapid, complete ruin to the latter. The 
vilest corruption spread to them. The death-rate 
of all the coloured races was terrible. 

Sometimes an enthusiast would arrive from civil- 
ized Austraha, and would talk for awhile. But 
nobody ever did anything. Soon the microbe of 
drift permeated his blood, and he would become 
as languid as the others. The white population of 
Port Darwin consisted of a set of officials and of 
those who catered for their wants. A few shipping 

A.C. C 



34 THE FEET OF CLAY 

agents and South Sea produce dealers constituted 
the independent citizen class. All considered them- 
selves exiles. The years rolled by, and the proces- 
sion of new faces went on, but the same stagnation 
prevailed for ever. Once it had been broken when 
the great effort was made, and a railway was pushed 
south as far as Pine Creek. As if in revenge, 
stagnation had settled on that very railway thicker 
than elsewhere, if that were possible. Under the 
law no coloured alien could own mining rights. 
As the Chinese who did not subsist on trade, vegeta- 
ble cultivation or laundry work were miners, they 
had to rent claims for working from the white 
proprietors, who received anything above lo per 
cent, of the gross yield for dummying. Such 
practices naturally lead to parasitism on the one 
hand, to presumptuousness on the other. Rusting 
mining machinery and a few cattle runs in the in- 
terior represented the highest attainment of the white 
race ; cabbage gardens that of the yellow race. 

It has been said that the Northern Territory was 
not a white man's land. With far greater accuracy 
it could have been called No Man's Land. For it 
is undeniable that the white inhabitants maintained 
their standard wonderfully well, compared to the 
physical and moral debasement of the immigrants 
of all other races. The truth is that it was, and is, 
the land of the worker ; only to the loafer is 
the climate enervating. And the curse upon it was 
that no race ever set itself to subjugate the soil, to 
force from it the richest yield by honest toil. Up 
to April, 1912, the Northern Territory was really 
the Country of Hope-Deferred, awaiting its con- 
queror, and the race — white, yellow, brown, or 
black — which would first solve its problem by organ- 
izing laborious, intelligent cultivation, was des- 
tined to rule, 



DANCING ON A VOLCANO 35 

Were the Japanese to be its masters ? The two 
friends had gloomy forebodings. Quite unexpectedly, 
however, their hopes revived. There was a smart 
shipping agent in Port Darwin. As it happened, 
he personated the Opposition, which meant that 
he had fallen out with the official bosses. Also, he 
was occasional correspondent for a pushful Mel- 
bourne daily. He heard the story. Probably he 
did not set much store by it, but he chose, as a 
true Oppositionist, to differ from the authorities. 
It occurred to him that if they had not reported to 
headquarters about the affair, he might catch them 
napping. So, after a conversation with Thomas 
Burt, he condensed the news into a stirring sum- 
mary, which he telegraphed to his paper. The editor 
on receipt was worried by grave doubts. The 
sensational character of the copy appealed to his 
journalistic instincts, but he was not sure whether 
its publication would not offend his readers. For he 
catered for a highly respectable merchant community, 
who might resent an attempt to scare them which 
bore the stamp of impossibility. In this dilemma 
he decided to bring the message under the notice 
of the Federal Government. Next day the 
Resident at Palmerston received an official in- 
quiry by wire, and after the exchange of several 
more telegrams, he was instructed to carry out a 
search. The Federal Government had come to the 
conclusion that a cargo of Chinamen might have been 
dumped somewhere upon the coast in evasion of 
immigration restrictions, as had often been rumoured 
before. 

Two days were spent at Port Darwin fitting the 
Government yacht for the cruise. A heavy rain- 
storm delayed her departure for another night, 
but at last she got away (April 15). All on board, 
from the police inspector (who was specially entrusted 



36 THE FEET OF CLAY 

with the investigation) downwards, felt convinced 
that they were going on a fool's errand. The friends 
had offered to accompany the party. But the 
captain ironically insisted that they would not be 
safe if nothing should be discovered, as his crew 
were only human after all. So they were compelled 
to stay behind. On April 22 the yacht returned. The 
results of the mission were wholly negative. Accord- 
ing to the official report, they had steamed along 
the coast beyond the longitude of Junction Bay, and 
had landed at convenient points. At Junction 
Bay a bush fire had raged recently ; miles of forest 
had been destroyed, and the damage done extended 
far inland. Probably it had been extinguished 
only by the late rainstorm, which evidently was very 
severe in that neighbourhood, for fresh water was 
still found near the mouth of creeks. Neither 
ashore nor awash were any traces or signs met 
with betraying that any landing had occurred, or 
that a large number of men had been in those 
waters. No human being was seen, not even an 
aboriginal. They passed no vessels, and only once 
a solitary column of smoke showed on the horizon, 
far out towards the ordinary track of navigation. 

The two friends were now completely discredited. 
They did not dare to throw doubt on the thorough- 
ness of the search, for fear of antagonizing the local 
dignitaries still more. At any moment legal action 
might be taken against them to wring part of the 
considerable expenses out of them. Official scep- 
ticism had been justified so signally that even the 
Opposition did not care to associate any further 
with them. There was a general feehng of relief 
when the ss. Changsha steamed into port, and it 
became known that they had booked passage by her 
to the south. Her commander was, of course, 
duly regaled with the sarcastic version of the story. 



DANCING ON A VOLCANO 37 

So he was quite prepared when his newly-acquired 
passengers boldly appealed to him to swerve off his 
proper course for the purpose of another investiga- 
tion, and he blandly informed them that it was really 
carrying a joke too far to ask that he should risk his 
ship and his certificate on a dangerous coast. Thus 
the last hope vanished. Day and night the friends 
remained on deck anxiously scanning the waste of 
waters, until the longitude of Junction Bay had 
been left behind. Then they hid themselves from 
bantering fellow-travellers in their cabin, defeated, 
despairing men. 

Their retirement did not last long. On the follow- 
ing afternoon the outlook sighted some wreckage 
floating by. Further on swarms of sea birds were 
noticed hovering over some-undistinguishable, nearly 
submerged shapes. The steamer slowed down, a 
boat was lowered. Those submerged forms were 
found to be bodies of drowned men ; of what 
nationality it was impossible to say, as their features 
had been largely eaten away. It was certain, how- 
ever, that they were of either Mongohan or Malayan 
stock. The ss. Changsha was now approaching the 
wilderness of islands, intermingled with sandbanks 
and sunken reefs, endangering the western entrance 
of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Night fell, and she 
stood by awaiting the dawn. Evidently a ship 
had come to grief somewhere near, and it was sea- 
men's duty to bring relief, if it were not yet too late. 
The morning revealed a wreck, driven on the rocks 
behind Cape Wessel. The captain decided to go 
over by boat to see for himself. Thomas Burt was 
permitted to accompany him. The wreck consisted 
of the fore-part of an iron steamer, firmly wedged in 
between the rocks. It presented a most singular 
appearance. The stern of the vessel had broken off, 
and the sea had swallowed it. But where it had 



38 THE FEET OF CLAY 

parted from the bows the plates were twisted and 
rent strangely ; fragments of hull and cargo lay 
scattered for a considerable distance along the line 
of reef ; all the combustible material was charred 
or scorched, and the metal showed everywhere 
the pecuhar discoloration which follows subjection 
to sudden enormous heat. No human being, alive 
or dead, was discovered. Probably the crew had 
escaped in the boats, which were all missing, and 
had taken the most valuable cargo away, while 
the remainder, for some reason, had been flung 
into the water. At any rate, there was no intact 
cargo left, though it was possible, by turning over 
loose heaps of wreckage, to gain a fair idea what it 
had been made up of. Quite a quantity of modern 
rifle ammunition was collected, and many broken 
parts of guns, some bayonets, tools, pieces of agricul- 
tural implements, shreds of blankets and of a cloth- 
ing material similar to khaki, also tinned foods — 
in short, all the necessaries of life and defence for 
an isolated settlement in the Northern Territor}^ as 
Thomas Burt pointed out. Whoever the mysteri- 
ous wrecked mariners had been, and whatever 
might have been their intentions, it was plain that 
they had tried to obliterate all traces of their mis- 
fortune. There could be no doubt about it — the 
vessel had been blasted asunder deliberately by 
means of explosives. The work of destruction had 
not been finished ; why, nobody was able to tell 
for certain. Was it because the supply of explosives 
had become exhausted ? 

There were two heroes aboard the Changsha as 
she sped across the gulf to make up for lost time. 
She arrived at Thursday Island on Ma}^ i. Next 
morning Australia awoke to profound sensation. 
The Press sported scareheads. At last, after the 
delay of a precious, irretrievable month, the warning 
was heeded. 



CHAPTER IV 

JAPAN EXPLAINS 

THE Japanese colony in the Northern Territory 
had been successfully founded. Of its first 
period of existence and growth no official informa- 
tion has yet become available. It seems that 
during the few days that followed the landing of 
the men, stores and stock were discharged in large 
quantities, and that the fleet then withdrew dis- 
creetly, leaving the new settlers to themselves. 
Since white men had witnessed the invasion, con- 
trary to calculation, and therefore inquiries might 
soon be instituted, that step was natural. Most 
likely, as a further precaution against too early 
detection, the new colonists left the coast altogether 
and proceeded some miles into the interior, burning 
the bush behind, so that every vestige of its pre- 
sence should be wiped out. That, at least, is the only 
explanation for the negative results of the search 
from Port Darwin. 

Meanwhile Tokio, silent and alert, awaited de- 
velopments. The triumph of its policy depended on 
delay. Its subjects were all the time establishing 
a moral claim and demonstrating their peaceful 
intentions by patiently cultivating the wilderness. 
Given two or three months of quiet possession, 
such marvellous progress would be achieved as 
would touch the great heart of the British people, 
provided that it was skilfully and gradually pre- 

39 



40 THE FEET OF CLAY 

pared for the revelation. The Japanese statesmen 
had studied their problem well. Australia was 
merely a pawn in the game, not a player. Every- 
thing turned on the reception which the bold move 
would have in the United Kingdom. If it was 
there accepted as a challenge, then indeed a crisis 
would be precipitated. This was exactly the 
danger which had to be guarded against ; a sudden 
explosion of British national pride, which would 
vent itself in the peremptory cry, " Hands off." 
After that, submission or armed resistance would 
have been the only alternatives. Perhaps it would 
not be safe to assert that Japan would not have 
gone to war under any circumstances ; that push- 
ful Power owed its phenomenal rise mainly to its 
courage in facing the worst and to its infinite 
capacity in preparing for it. But Japan did not 
seriously contemplate war. Its rulers relied on 
their ability to convince the English masses of the 
harmlessness of the immigration, and to per- 
suade them that the new citizens of their Empire 
were not standard bearers of militant conquest, 
but of patient civilization. None knew better that 
British sentimentality and the White Australian 
ideal had nothing in common. 

Fortune favours the bold. The white witnesses 
of the landing failed in their warnings. April passed 
without alarm, and it was only in May that the 
cablegrams as to the discovery of the mysterious 
wreck by ss. Changsha, sent the first quivers of 
vague fear through the Commonwealth. There 
was really nothing definite about it, as not even 
the nationality of the wreck was known. Never- 
theless, the Federal Government decided to place 
the facts before the Imperial authorities, together 
with a report of the Port Darwin rumours. This 
evoked nothing beyond a formal acknowledgment, 



JAPAN EXPLAINS 41 

and then, it seems, the matter was in the best way 
of being forgotten. 

Several days later, however, the Japanese Ambas- 
sador became communicative. Probably Tokio 
considered that secrecy could not be maintained 
much longer, and that a voluntary statement, as 
an act of courtesy to an ally, would serve its ends 
best. Accordingly, the Japanese Ambassador in- 
formed the British Cabinet that the Japanese 
Consuls in Austraha had drawn the attention of 
his Government to some rumours current there. His 
Government had pursued inquiries, and it had been 
ascertained that, in fact, a number of Japanese had 
entered the Northern Territory. His superiors re- 
gretted the occurrence and must decline respon- 
sibility, as they had been kept in absolute ignorance. 
It appeared that a committee of private philan- 
thropists had been formed for the purpose of 
relieving the chronic famine by removing sufferers 
from the congested districts, and in its eagerness 
it had shipped some to the wastes of the Australian 
North, where it was understood they would preju- 
dice no previous title, as the Territory carried no 
settled population. His Government apologized 
that it had failed to control private efforts properly 
so that no overflow into the possessions of its ally 
could have happened. No trouble would be spared 
to get at the exact facts, which would occupy 
some time. Great Britain would be kept fully 
informed, and early consideration would be extended 
to the question of how best to make amends. 

The right cord had been struck. A powerful 
appeal had been made to the sentiment of the 
average Englishman, while simultaneously his 
patriotic conceits were flattered. Famished people, 
frantic but generous measures to help them, and a 
strong Government expressing sorrow for any 



42 THE FEET OF CLAY 

breach of proprieties which might have been com- 
mitted — to turn the scales against such facts would 
require a strong case indeed. Of course, the ex- 
planations and assurances proffered could be read in 
many ways. But British Ministers chose to take 
the most cheerful view ; their despatches to the 
Commonwealth reflected it, and consequently had 
a soothing influence, implying, as they undoubt- 
edly did, that not the slightest misgivings existed 
regarding a speedy, satisfactory settlement. 

Some critics in the Empire were not so easily 
quieted, and the central authorities might have 
come in for scathing condemnation if a more con- 
venient scapegoat had not offered in the person 
of the British Ambassador at Tokio. It was 
indeed unpardonable that he had not had the 
slightest inkling of events happening under his 
very nose, according to the Japanese version. Yet 
something can be said in excuse. In Tokio the 
high game of world-poHtics was, and is, played 
at such a pace that it strained every nerve of the ac- 
credited diplomats. The significance of incidents of 
local import escaped them in this whirlpool of excite- 
ment. Perhaps the one who least troubled about 
them was the Imperial representative, resting secure 
on the loyalty of an ally. Nobody was more sur- 
prised than the dignitary himself when he received 
rather curt orders to investigate the matter on 
his part. But he was able to elucidate very httle 
beyond what had been voluntarily disclosed. The 
committee of philanthropists existed, though he 
was sceptical about the accuracy of the date of its 
constitution ; and its members acknowledged their 
full and sole responsibility for chartering and 
employing several steamers for the transport of 
starving emigrants to the Northern Territory. They 
also expressed hopes that they might be permitted 



JAPAN EXPLAINS 43 

to ship Japanese women to join the settlers, so 
that " the stain of immorahty might be kept from 
Austraha." 

This last intimation alarmed the Imperial Govern- 
ment. It looked like an inspired indiscretion, 
revealing that some definite plan had been formed ; 
for had the Japanese ever been indiscreet except 
for a purpose ? Henceforth the incident was 
regarded as serious. When the Ambassador of 
the Mikado notified his readiness to supply more 
details (May 13), he was subjected to searching 
examination. What London wanted to know was 
why, under any circumstances, the Northern 
Territory should have been selected as a dumping 
ground, while the large dependencies acquired in the 
last campaign were only half filled, and should, 
therefore, offer scope to private enterprise quite 
apart from official policy. Was there not enough 
room for both ? 

But the Ambassador pleaded impossibility. 
Those provinces, he said, were reserved to State 
control. The Japanizing process was being pushed 
on there with utmost energy, if only for strategic 
and economic reasons. It could not be accelerated 
further. What must not be forgotten was that 
famine conditions prevailed to a large extent on 
the continent, not only in China, as was well known, 
but also in Manchuria, and even in Korea. So the 
syndicate of philanthropists had endeavoured to 
open new avenues of relief. 

This explanation was plain enough ; yet it was 
merely the prelude to straighter talk. Apparently 
the Japanese Government recognized that delay and 
vagueness had been worked for all they were worth. 
Bold bluff now took their place. The ally was 
overwhelmed with a veritable deluge of frankness. 

A point, the Ambassador said, which his Govern- 



44 THE FEET OF CLAY 

merit desired to make clear was its non-interference 
with private citizens in the organization and execu- 
tion of such a great enterprise. The fact was that, 
in his country, everything in which the Government 
of the day participated became a party issue. 
Pohtical rivalries were so bitter that it might be 
truthfully said that even the famine was blamed on 
to the party in power. As no responsible Minister 
wished to prejudice private charity in the eyes of 
public opponents, they were compelled to take no 
notice whatever of these humanitarian efforts 
either one way or another. 

The Ambassador was now in a position to state 
that some thousand Japanese had been landed in 
the Northern Territory about half way between Port 
Darwin and the Gulf of Carpentaria. They were all 
able-bodied men ; sick or old people had been 
rigorously excluded. As yet no women had been 
sent ; the health, intelligence, and general usefulness 
of the emigrants were such as would make them 
desirable workers anywhere. Why had they been 
disembarked many hundred miles from places where 
employment was probable, if they were such wilHng 
labourers ? Why was a secrecy maintained which 
justified suspicions that the real object of the enter- 
prise was seizure of the land ? His Government 
admitted that the committee of philanthropists 
must have lost their heads to act as they did. It 
considered that they went practically mad, face to 
face with huge numbers of starving compatriots, 
who were doomed to hunger for want of an outlet, 
while yet uninhabited stretches of fertile country 
were only a few days' sail away. Should they 
obey restrictive laws which condemned them to 
inhumanity against kith and kin ? Or should they 
help their people if it could be done without violat- 
ing openly those harsh laws ? As for the seizure 



JAPAN EXPLAINS 45 

of land, that was hardly the correct expression, 
because there was nobody from whom it could be 
taken. If consular reports were not mistaken, it 
was free to the landless, even in the settled parts of 
Australia, to raise and to harvest a crop on unused 
Crown lands. That was exactly what the famishing 
refugees did. They were raising crops on unused 
Crown lands, and did not claim the proprietorship 
of an acre. What they claimed was the right to 
keep alive in a district where they competed against 
no one and infringed on no vested interests. Surely 
no objections should stand against the dictates of 
common humanity. 

The British Foreign Secretary replied that no 
doubt humanitarian draperies were convenient 
garments at times. Nothing could do away with 
the fact that here they had a large organized force 
virtually taking possession of country which had 
been under the British flag well nigh a century. 
It appeared that peaceable white men had been 
pursued and fired at. There was not much meek- 
ness in that ; much more did it look like a criminal 
attempt to exclude all others. 

But the Ambassador protested blandly that his 
Government knew nothing of blunders which the 
Japanese exiles might have committed. No means 
of communication with them existed. Whatever 
might be their sins, or crimes, there was no thought 
of sheltering the culprits. Let them be brought 
to law and be adequately punished. However, 
matters might not be so bad. Some excuse might 
be found for slight excesses. The refugees were in 
strange surroundings, and therefore liable to sudden 
panic. Perhaps, under the influence of some 
unaccountable excitement, they used their rifles 
unadvisedly. That phase would soon pass. 

Then the immigrants were all armed ? Why, 



46 THE FEET OF CLAY 

naturally. Official immigrants, as well as com- 
mittees organizing private emigration, were supplied 
with discarded service rifles. In Korea and Man- 
churia that was absolutely necessary for the safety 
of the settlers. And the Northern Territory con- 
tained much game which, it was hoped, would help 
to carry the colonists over the worst until the first 
crops would be harvested. 

He became stern then. " There are also," he 
continued, " lawless characters in every country, 
particularly in borderlands of civihzation. To be 
perfectly frank, it is not the intention of my Govern- 
ment to allow its long-suffering subjects to become 
the victims of such. It would have been more in 
keeping with the traditions of my race to let them 
perish at home, if they are to perish. But we are 
no longer fatalists." 

Perhaps the Ambassador overstepped his mark 
in conveying a hint of such directness. But he 
wound up his explanations in the approved style 
of guarded diplomacy. His Government, he stated, 
declined to discuss British supremacy over the 
Northern Territory, because it must regard the mere 
raising of that issue as an insult to Great Britain. 
On the contrary, Japan, true to its alliance, was 
ready to employ all its naval and military forces 
against any nation which should dare to challenge 
that supremacy, Moreover, in proof of its own 
loyalty, it was willing to waive all claims to the 
future allegiance of its emigrants to Australia. 
No refugee had a brighter hope, or a desire more 
sincere than to be allowed to live and die a faithful 
subject under the British flag, which to his race was 
the emblem of justice. Just as in the Straits Settle- 
ments the Chinese were made welcome and soon 
yielded to none in fealty, so nothing better was 
asked by his compatriots. It was quite true that 



JAPAN EXPLAINS 47 

his Government pleaded that mercy be extended to 
starving exiles, but it had no sinister motives. In 
fact, as soon as the Imperial authorities had made 
known their will and taken the immigrants under 
their protection, the Mikado would be glad to issue a 
solemn proclamation, releasing all Japanese settlers 
in the Northern Territory from their dutiful 
obedience, and commanding them to be loyal sub- 
jects of the King. 

That was the parting shot aimed straight at the 
White Heart of Australia. 



CHAPTER V 

AUSTRALIA'S REPLY 

THE flutter of excitement into which the 
Commonwealth had been thrown by the 
cablegrams from Thursday Island relating to 
the Changsha discovery, died quickly away for 
want of nourishment. Thomas Burt and his 
friend were on the water again, bound for Brisbane. 
Taught by bitter experience, they had resolved not 
to fritter away their knowledge, but to keep their 
lips tightly shut until they were face to face with 
the Prime Minister of Austraha, when they would 
make their great patriotic effort to gain the con- 
fidence of that statesman. Accordingly, they re- 
fused, on arrival in Brisbane, to supply information 
to the Press, leaving this to their fellow-passengers, 
who, knowing of the alleged immigration only by 
hearsay, preferred to confine their remarks to the 
wreck. The two friends continued their journey 
without delay by train to Sydney and Melbourne. 
In this way a few more precious days were lost 
to the Australian people, who, in the absence of 
all confirmation, began to look upon the matter 
as a paper scare. Suspicion had always been ripe 
that Chinese sometimes entered the North without 
permission. If Japanese coolies should now have 
followed their example, it was plain that the thing 
could not go on much longer in this fashion, and that 
means would have to be devised to close the back- 
is 



AUSTRALIA'S REPLY 49 

door effectually. It was the duty of Government 
to see to that and there was really no occasion for 
alarm. Such was the somnolent habit of thought 
of the average citizen of the Commonwealth right 
through the first third of the month of May, 1912, 
until he was broken of it by an avalanche of dis- 
quieting developments. 

On May 10 the cablegrams of the morning press 
announced the official Japanese admission that 
immigration had really occurred. It caused general 
consternation. Nobody understood the purpose of 
this astounding move. While the majority main- 
tained that the admission was a guarantee that the 
allied nation would assist in the withdrawal of the 
undesirable aliens, an influential Melbourne daily 
took the opposite view that nothing worse could 
have happened. After Japan, it argued, had form- 
ally interfered, it was sure to side with its subjects. 
This conflict of opinion was just arresting general 
attention when the two friends arrived in Mel- 
bourne and sprang their account, which left no 
doubt that an armed invasion had taken place, 
upon the already anxious continent. At last 
they had a full triumph of revenge. After having 
been slighted for so long by minor officials they 
were listened to by the Prime Minister of Austraha. 
And the transparent sincerity of their forceful, 
concise report gained them his credence to such 
an extent that a summary was at once made avail- 
able to the Press on behalf of the Government, thus 
acquiring the character of an official communication. 
It created an enormous impression. Within twenty- 
four hours there rose the cry, from the shores of 
the Pacific to Cape Leeuwin, that the Japanese 
must go, and that the insult to the Commonwealth 
must be atoned for. Backed up by such unanimous 
indignation, the Federal Government hastened to 

A.C. D 



50 THE FEET OF CLAY 

lodge a passionate complaint in London and to 
claim boldly the immediate employment of all the 
resources of the Empire in support of its cause. 

The appeal reached Downing Street on the 
morning of May 13, the date on which the Ambas- 
sador of the Mikado chose to throw light on the 
situation from his point of view. It was a com- 
bination calculated to try sorely the patience of 
the Imperial statesmen. That an intrigue had 
been laid with consummate skill to shatter the 
anti-colour policy of the great southern dependency 
was plain enough. But the question before the 
responsible rulers of Great Britain was how 
far the}^ should commit themselves in defence of 
principles of racial exclusiveness which were not 
shared by the masses in the United Kingdom. Rash- 
ness either way could only lead to disaster. For 
immense issues were at stake : on the one hand, the 
estrangement of a proud nation whose alliance was 
invaluable in Asia ; on the other, fierce colonial 
resentment. British interests, paramount to all 
other considerations, demanded dilatory treatment 
of this awkward comphcation. Accordingly, the 
reply to Melbourne and the dispatches detailing 
the latest Japanese explanations were couched 
in reassuring terms implying full sympathy with 
Australian ideals though carefully avoiding any 
definite promise. 

These early dispatches are remarkable for one 
striking omission, which illustrates better than 
many words could do the infinite capacity of the 
Enghsh Government for " riding a rail " during 
a grave colonial crisis. While the Ambassador's 
statement of facts is repeated fully and fairly 
enough, no mention is made of the Mikado's pro- 
posal regarding the transfer of allegiance. It has 
been attempted to justify the suppression on the 



AUSTRALIA'S REPLY 51 

ground that the offer was nebulous and that it was 
merely launched as a ballon d'essai. But the 
true reason why this suggestion was held back was 
certainly the fear that its introduction would have 
provoked the Commonwealth beyond endurance 
and, as far as the latter was concerned, would have 
put a stop to the further employment of diplomatic 
means there and then. 

Meanwhile, the Press was used to pour oil on the 
troubled waters and, incidentally, to test popular 
feeling in Great Britain. That was decidedly in 
favour of Japan. No daily paper of standing in the 
United Kingdom had ever been critical regarding 
the ethics of the alliance. On the contrary, all 
had applauded it from the outset and a sudden 
somersault of any solid public organ into vio- 
lent denunciation of the ally was therefore out 
of the question. Some fiercely Imperial sheets 
ventured on a gentle chiding, but on the whole the 
printed comments ran on calm, superior, impartial 
hues and it became quickly apparent that this 
moderation corresponded entirely with the present 
temper of the nation. The syndicated cable ser- 
vice of the great Austrahan dailies was conducted 
exclusively from London and, in consequence, 
reflected faithfully the sentiments prevailing there. 
So it was even in this case. After the first fulmina- 
tions, there was a marked relaxation, and leading 
articles appealed to the people of the Common- 
wealth to curb their passions and to leave their 
grievances in the hands of the British Government 
who could be trusted to see justice done. In due 
course, cabled extracts of these well-intentioned 
exhortations found their way into the Enghsh 
Press which paraded them as a proof that Australia, 
with the exception of a few irresponsibles, was 
quite satisfied to accept whatever settlement the 



52 THE FEET OF CLAY 

Imperial authorities should consider proper. And 
thus arose a misconception than which none could 
have been more dangerous or more fatal to Common- 
wealth aspirations at a time when the British mind 
was yet impressionable before it had settled in a 
definite groove. 

All soporific efforts collapsed before the march 
of events. On May i6 astonishing news reached 
Melbourne by wire from Port Darwin. A Japanese 
deputation had arrived at the latter place con- 
sisting of three members who made a dignified entry 
under the folds of a Union Jack. Its mission was 
to pay homage to the Resident in his capacity as 
chief officer of the Territory. Though the reception 
was chilly the members did not seem to notice it. 
Two of them professed entire ignorance of the Eng- 
lish language. That was another master stroke 
of Oriental cunning, for it left them free to spy about 
and to assist in every way the third colleague, the 
spokesman, without exposing them to the slightest 
risk of contradicting his statements. The spokes- 
man, on his part, made haste to intimate that he 
exercised no particular authority over his com- 
rades, and that he had not been selected for the 
leadership of the party by reason of his exalted 
station in the Japanese community, but simply 
because he was one of the very few who under- 
stood EngHsh. Having thus plainly defined his 
personal insignificance, he was by no means averse 
to answer questions, and his replies fitted in so 
closely with the official explanations of the Ambas- 
sador that no discerning observer can doubt that 
both emanated from the same source. Above all, 
he protested against the description of his com- 
patriots as prohibited immigrants. They knew 
nothing about that. Kind, wealthy men of their 
own race, pitying their sufferings from famine, had 



AUSTRALIA'S REPLY 53 

helped them to leave the stricken provinces. But 
now they had voluntarily adopted the nationality 
of the country which enabled them to live and 
were willing to defend it against all comers. To 
give expression to this feeling of loyalty they had 
travelled so far to make dutiul submission to their 
new rulers. Everything in connexion with their 
settlement, he said, was open to official inspection. 
He could not state the total number of refugees, as 
they had landed at different points and were widely 
dispersed. However, he thought they exceeded 
two thousand. He hoped that business relations 
would soon be established between them and Port 
Darwin. 

Their solemn exhibition of humble loyalty was 
not to be its own reward. The deputation pursued 
more practical aims. Towards the end of the 
interview, the spokesman informed the Resident 
that he had been charged by his compatriots to 
solicit a special favour. It was hoped that the 
Government might soon see its way to open 
schools, in which his people could be taught the 
language and the customs of their adopted coun- 
try, so that they might quickly become desirable 
citizens. All expense so incurred would be paid 
for in produce after the first harvest was gathered. 

The Resident assigned an empty cottage for 
the use of his visitors-in-state and demanded 
instructions by wire. Late the same evening 
(May 16) the Federal Executive in Melbourne met 
in council. A great opportunity was before it, 
for by a rare chance the invaders had delivered 
themselves into its hands. Port Darwin being 
within jurisdiction of the Commonwealth, the whole 
issue was transferred from London to the Antipodes 
the very moment that the offenders — or some of 
them — came within reach of the Australian authori- 



54 THE FEET OF CLAY 

ties. Why they should have done so voluntarily 
cannot be easily explained. Probably Japan tried 
to bluff the Federal Government into some sort 
of negotiations with the deputation, when it would 
have seized upon the slightest signs of hesitation 
and weakness as evidence for British consumption 
that Australia itself had recognized that the prob- 
lem called for diplomatic treatment. If so, its 
deep plot miscarried, for the Federal Executive 
was not in the mood for trifling. Its orders to the 
Resident of the Northern Territory were calculated, 
on the contrary, to force the game against Tokio 
as well as against London. 

Next morning the three members of the Japanese 
deputation were arrested on a charge of shooting 
at British subjects with intent to murder. Other 
"persons unknown" were joined under the same 
indictment. But it was only the beginning. War- 
rants were issued against these " persons unknown, 
of Japanese nationalit3^ who had entered the 
country without permission and had murderously 
assaulted white men, British subjects." It was a 
sweeping, skilful move which did away with the 
international aspect of the case, for it imputed to 
the refugees a common crime to be dealt with in a 
common court of law. A few lines from the depart- 
ment of Justice had made outlaws of all the invaders. 

Everything depended now on the possibility of 
proving the charge. The Federal Attorney-General 
decided to supervise the proceedings personally on 
the spot. As a fast P. & O. mail steamer happened 
to be in port in Sydney, she was chartered under 
pressure. The Attorney-General, his staff and the 
witnesses for the prosecution, viz., Thomas Burt 
and his friend, were rushed by train overland to 
catch her. At top speed, the splendid liner raced 
to the north (May 19) and covered the distance to 



AUSTRALIA'S REPLY 55 

Port Darwin in the record time of just under six 
days. 

Australia was wild with joy over the energetic 
action of the national Government. Even the 
great dailies, spoon-fed with Tory sentiments from 
London, did not care to disagree and were content 
with some guarded appeals for circumspection 
and moderation addressed to Parliament. The 
Continent was now looking forward to the third 
session of its fourth Parliament, fixed by Executive 
proclamation (May 18) to open on May 30, 1912. 

The Imperial authorities had not apprehended 
such rash enterprise on the part of the Common- 
wealth, the limitations of which were so manifest. 
It possessed no navy, and speedy land communica- 
tions with the tropical North were non-existent. 
The deputation incident could not have been fore- 
seen, of course. Still less, that it should be thus 
rapidly turned to advantage in Melbourne. London 
resigned itself to let the case proceed on its merits. 
If the arrested men could be proved guilty, they 
would have to suffer the penalty for their crime. 
No civilized people could quarrel about it. Anyhow, 
the trial would take some time, and for this reason 
alone it commended itself to British caution — 
Japan, too, refrained from protest. Doubtless its 
statesmen had not counted on thi > development. 
But they could not deny the right of Australia to 
have recourse to law, as the alleged offence had 
occurred within its dominions. For once, they had 
played straight into the hands of their antagonists 
and they had now to trust to chance to regain the 
lead. 

The trial lasted one day (May 27). The evidence 
of the witnesses for the prosecution was unanswer- 
able as far as it went. But the prisoners, who 
pleaded not guilty, set up a stubborn negative de- 



56 THE FEET OF CLAY 

fence. Admitting that they were armed, they 
stated that the disembarkment had been carried 
out from several steamers simultaneously, over a 
wide stretch of beach. They had not discharged 
their rifles on the morning of the landing and had 
not heard any shots. It was impossible to refute 
their denials. The white witnesses had to admit 
that the Japanese were distributed over a large 
distance and that they had probably not all taken 
part in the assault. Identification of the prisoners 
as active accessories to the crime was naturally out 
of the question. So the case against the three 
Japanese broke down and they were released. 

But they were immediately re-arrested under 
the charge of being prohibited immigrants and 
promptly sentenced to gaol pending the arrival of 
the first boat bound for the East, in which they 
were to be deported. This was at best a Pyrrhic 
victory, for it restored the international base of the 
dispute. Not that Japan contested this special 
decision. That would merely have prejudiced its 
case. The three men were prohibited immigrants 
and had gone into a trap. As for the bulk of the 
new settlers, hidden away in the inaccessible bush, 
it was quite a different matter. First of all, it 
would require some effort to bring them to justice. 
In the enormity of that problem, Oriental cunning 
would have a fair field to come into play. 

Though foiled in one particular, the Federal 
Government abated nothing of its pushfulness. A 
proclamation, issued (May 29) to the people of Aus- 
tralia and cabled to London and to the Governments 
of all autonomous Colonies, called attention to 
the fact that the Commonwealth was invaded by 
hordes of murderous criminals carrying arms, who had 
entered in defiance of the laws sanctioned by the King, 
and warned every good citizen of the British Empire 



AUSTRALIA'S REPLY 57 

to have nothing to do with them, but to assist the 
authorities in every way to punish and to expel the 
miscreants. Supplementing the strong language, 
a body of specially picked constabulary was de- 
spatched by sea to Port Darwin (May 31). It 
numbered only twenty-five men, for the Federal 
Executive, unable to put into the field at once an 
army strong enough to cope with several thousand 
armed Japanese, affected to follow the rules of 
ordinary police administration. Should they be 
defied, then the matter passed continental confines, 
and Greater Britain would have to enforce respect 
for its acknowledged methods of procedure. That, 
at least, was the contention of the harassed Common- 
wealth authorities. 

Both the proclamation and the threatened resort 
to force were furiously denounced in the leading 
Tokio journals, which asserted that there was no 
justification for them and that the real crime of the 
helpless refugees was their nationality. Herein, 
they maintained, lay a mortal insult to the Japanese 
race and the Government was exhorted not to stand 
idly by to see violence offered to men of their own 
colour. Officially stony silence was kept, but no- 
thing was done to curb the intemperance of the 
Press in its endeavours to rouse popular passions. 

The next step of the Federal Cabinet was the 
publication of the full text of their cable interchanges 
with London, under the plea that the sovereign 
people were vitally interested and had a right to 
know the full extent of their danger. This piece 
of strategy was contrary to diplomatic traditions 
and certain to hurt Imperial susceptibilities. Its 
result, as intended, was a startling convulsion of 
Australian and Colonial sentiment, leaving no 
doubt that the Commonwealth was wedded to the 
principle of a White Continent and would not tolerate 



58 THE FEET OF CLAY 

any leader who did not champion it against all odds. 
That manifestation was of the highest value to the 
Ministry at this moment for Parliamentary reasons. 
It proved that the continuation of aggressive policy 
was the will of the people. And the Opposition 
would have to conform to it when it came to deal 
with the bold measures which the Government was 
formulating. 

This memorable session opened on May 30. 



CHAPTER VI 

A STUDY OF BRITISH SENTIMENT 

THE Japanese descent upon the Northern Terri- 
tory had been well timed. Over the world 
of white men there Kngered the afterglow of an epoch 
of unprecedented prosperity, of which Great Britain 
had had full measure. Its ruling classes were 
glutted with success and its enjoyment. Now 
that the outlook became less bright, their attention 
was wholly engrossed in the pursuit of more profit, 
before the oncoming period of depression, univers- 
ally prophesied by experts. Even the class-war 
was less fierce ; unemployment had steadily de- 
creased for years ; wages had been slowly rising, 
and the toilers' discontent was lulled somewhat by 
a sense of uncommon economic stability. If there 
was one wish shared alike by all England, it was 
the desire that an even tenor of political develop- 
ment, both at home and abroad, might be main- 
tained. Consequently, there was a feeling of irrita- 
tion when the immigration controversy threatened 
to cause a disturbance. 

Popular resentment, natural^, turned against 
the side which seemed to aggravate the difficulties 
of the situation. It was there Japan scored. Offi- 
cially, it could afford to sit tight and to keep quiet, 
for its secret work had been so cleverly contrived 
that it could now be left to itself for a time at least. 
The Commonwealth, on the other hand, was driven 

59 



6o THE FEET OF CLAY 

to desperate measures of repression. The short- 
sighted demagogues and radical journaHsts, who 
dominated the Enghsh masses, condemned roundly 
the colonial excitement about a trouble which ap- 
peared to them, from their safe distance, fifth-rate 
at most. Nothing the Federal Government did 
was thought right by these zealous humanitarians. 
Its prosecution of the deputation was dubbed 
puerile exaggeration. The fierce denunciation of 
subjects of an allied Power in the proclamation 
was even taken as a reflection on Great Britain for 
the company kept by it. It was not understood in 
the Mother Country that the Commonwealth was 
acting according to the promptings of an irresistible 
instinct. As creatures of the night, exposed to 
sudden glare, dart instinctively for the nearest 
dark shelter, thus Australia, dazed by the sudden 
perception of deadly danger, started into convulsive 
movement. But the Commonwealth appeared to 
the badly-informed millions, who in the last resort 
sway Imperial policy, as responsible for the biggest 
part of the commotion, and this misconception 
disposed them all the more to look with tolerant 
eyes upon the case as presented by Japan. Tokio 
had prepared the way to their overgrown hearts 
cunningly. It claimed no right ; it merely ap- 
pealed to common humanity. And it thus flattered 
nicely the popular idea of the Mission of Empire. 
Here they were asked to stretch forth helping hands 
to humble suppHcants ; to elevate a race yet erring 
in outer darkness, to their own level of goodness ; 
to bestow material prosperity on famishing hordes. 
Nothing could be more desirable. Nevertheless, a 
handful of white settlers 12,000 miles away, hardly 
visible in the surrounding vastness of an empty 
continent, told them to desist as harshly as if they 
had no voice in the matter at all. 



A STUDY OF BRITISH SENTIMENT 6i 

The English middle-classes, too, have always 
been moved deeply by religious considerations. 
Only acute fears, real or imagined, about the exist- 
ence and growth of the Empire, could overcome 
their scruples in that direction. Nobody alleged 
that there was any reason for patriotic anxiety in 
the present development. The Japanese explana- 
tions were modest, even complimentary. The as- 
surance that the immigrants craved the honour to 
be allowed to live and die under the Union Jack 
might be said to confer an extra lustre on the grand 
old flag. The ambitious request did not strike 
Britishers as very remarkable after all the specula- 
tions of recent years, that possibly Japanese soldiers 
would fight and die some day in defence of India for 
the Empire. An allied nation, of which such high 
expectations had been formed, could not be looked 
upon with contempt. Alas ! they were heathens 
still. But the immigrants, removed from the re- 
tarding influence, one might almost say, from the 
bad example of the millions still groping in darkness 
in their native haunts, would offer a fair field for 
missionary work. Many ardent British believers 
thanked God for the chance. 

The economic aspect, which so frightened Austra- 
lian workers, was not understood by their com- 
rades in the United Kingdom, who had to contend 
all their lives in free markets against the cut-throat 
competition of cheap labour, and who had also to 
put up with a steady inpour of East and South 
European cheap labourers. Where was the differ- 
ence ? Toilers in the Mother Country did not reahze 
the significance of race contrasts, because, so far, 
they had not become acquainted with them first- 
hand. Distance and overcrowding formed a sort 
of protection. In the industrial districts of Great 
Britain white skilled and trained labour was so 



62 THE FEET OF CLAY 

cheap and superabundant, as a rule, that the im- 
portation of MongoHans or negroes would hardly 
have been a paying game. At any rate, it had 
never been tried systematically. And thus British 
workers, having been spared the degradation of 
contact with lower races, could afford to take a 
lenient view. In their opinion, the difference was 
only skin-deep at worst. It passed their minds why 
any one should go into hysterics because a few Japs 
or Chinese wished to make a living at the other end 
of the world, where there was so much room for 
everybody. 

Still, the middle and lower classes were not really 
antagonistic to Commonwealth ideals. They were 
merely hampered by the small e^itent of their know- 
ledge and by the subconscious sense of superiority 
which warps the judgment of the average English- 
man in matters colonial and foreign. Most of them 
regarded Australia as a kind of prodigal daughter, 
whose pranks had to be borne with good-humouredly. 
Her people were supposed to indulge in various 
irresponsible notions, and to be very tickhsh on all 
labour questions, to such an extent that they had 
refused admittance more than once to honest Brit- 
ishers who came looking for work. (This was a Press 
invention, but it had firmly taken root, neverthe- 
less.) Of the Northern Territory, it was only known 
that it was very big, very hot, very empty ; a gap 
on the map, yawning for population, yet not at all 
a white man's land. 

But higher up in the social scale there were sec- 
tions who cherished grievances against the Common- 
wealth. The banking world and the Stock Exchange 
interests belonged to them. It is difficult to define 
the reasons for this scarcely-veiled hostility of 
British high finance. The antipathy was based 
partly on sentimental grounds. Political life in the 



A STUDY OF BRITISH SENTIMENT 63 

Antipodes was highly flavoured with that democratic 
levelling spirit which the wealthy classes in England 
had so often played with for their own ends, and 
cheated of its prize every time, and which they ab- 
horred, therefore, with the hatred born of instinctive 
fear of a vague, unavoidable retribution. In a 
word, Australian democracy served as an irksome 
reminder of the smothered social conscience of 
British wealth. 

Moreover, the broad masses there had remained 
very independent and ignorant of the obedient 
humility which the owner of riches can personally 
command in the Old World. Instead, the most 
popular prints were full of cleverly worded and in- 
geniously illustrated attacks on capitalism, national 
and international. Political leaders of far-reaching 
influence had echoed the contempt at times, and in 
several conflicts big vested interests had not been 
exalted officially above less gilded claims. There 
was, too, a steady current of legislation towards the 
restriction of the money power. Even British Im- 
perialism had come in for criticism, and had been 
described as world-wide exploitation for the benefit 
of millionaires at home, with little regard for distant 
white toilers abroad. Such licence bred reaction. 
But it was not so much verbal presumptions as 
material consequences which high finance was 
troubled about. The new spirit, with its demands 
for living wages, its regulation of working hours, 
and restriction of cheap contract labour immigra- 
tion, its inspection of producing methods and pro- 
ducts was threatening the profits of old investments, 
and made remunerative new investments more com- 
plicated. 

Capital, always conservative, does not easily ac- 
commodate itself to great changes. Above all, it 
loathes supervision. In the United Kingdom some 



64 THE FEET OF CLAY 

modijfications might be proper. But it had ever 
been recognized that east of the Suez Canal moss- 
grown European conventionahties had no currency, 
and that the road was left clear there for the unfet- 
tered play of commercial genius out on the golden 
quest, even as it had been in the old merchant- 
adventurer days radiant with Indian memories 
of glory and gain. Yet now, in the very heart 
of those privileged hunting-grounds, an upstart 
dependency dared to set up as moral arbiter of 
business methods. And not content to govern 
themselves in established communities, its citizens 
claimed control of the whole continent, and fore- 
closed the tropical north against Imperial enterprise. 
Some things are only truly appreciated after they 
have been lost beyond hope. The whole northern 
fringe of Australia had lain practically unused for 
decades. Speculators in London had not perceived 
the fact that it contained the makings of another 
India until the definite formulation and adoption 
of the White Australia policy had made the reahza- 
tion impossible. Then, of course, they did not 
blame their own remissness, but the impudence of the 
colonials. For several years a section of the British 
Press, prompted by disappointed monopolists, con- 
ducted a campaign of slander against the young 
Commonwealth, accusing it of undue interference 
with private enterprise, and of a deliberate attempt 
to withhold its torrid districts from colonization. It 
was ably backed in this particular by " Little Eng- 
land " papers, which disliked the White Australia 
doctrine just as much, though for exactly opposite 
reasons. Between them, they drew a glowing 
picture of what the Northern Territory should be 
like if, instead of new-fangled theories, the approved 
traditions of Imperial colonization were followed. 
It was only necessary to appoint a capable adminis- 



A STUDY OF BRITISH SENTIMENT 65 

trator, with Indian experience, and to throw open 
the country to all comers. Or perhaps, as a sop to 
national prejudice, it might be reserved to Imperial 
immigration — of all colours, of course. Here was 
a chance to relieve the curse of Hindustan, over- 
crowding, by transferring whole villages and tribes. 
The new province could thus be stocked with a 
cheap, submissive, intelligent population, which 
would transform it into fruitful fields. Rice, cotton, 
tobacco, wheat and other tropical products could 
be cultivated. Railways, roads, ports and shipping 
would have to be constructed, together with the 
hundred other modern contrivances of trade re- 
quired to distribute the wealth of the land and to 
supply the needs of its settlers. And British capital 
and industries would benefit. Why all these mar- 
vellous prospects should be sacrificed for a fad, in 
the interests of non-existent white citizens who 
could only be attracted by the certainty of high 
remuneration, if at all, passed the understanding 
of the average stay-at-home Englishman. As for 
the leaders of finance, they could never forgive such 
folly. The White Australia pohcy robbed them of 
profits which were as good as made but for its 
arbitrary interference. Anything was better than 
the stagnation which resulted from it. The present 
development was rather welcomed by the more 
virulent section as a fitting retribution. And the 
Press, influenced by them, began to hint that this 
complication could never have occurred if the old 
methods of colonization had been adhered to. 

The nobihty and gentry of the United Kingdom 
shared the coolness of the capitalists, partly for the 
same reasons ; partly, however, because of a special 
class grievance. It may be said that the proud, 
democratic spirit of the Australian people repre- 
sented the principle directly opposed to the social 

A.c. E 



66 THE FEET OF CLAY 

conditions which evolved a hereditary aristocracy. 
The contrast was too great to allow of mutual ad- 
miration. All attempts to graft a peerage upon the 
young continent had failed ignominiously. Some 
knighthoods had been granted, but it was a strange 
fact that, in quite a number of cases, men who were 
considered to have promising prospects before they 
were thus honoured fell victims to pohtical extinc- 
tion soon afterwards. The temper of the nation 
was republican in this respect. Members of the 
aristocracy, on their part, had not forgotten the origin 
of the colony. Between its citizens and themselves 
a great gulf was fixed. Their habits of thought 
were divided by centuries. Neither was able to 
take seriously the ideals of the other. 

It has been shown that the general sentiments of 
the people of the Mother Country were widely 
divergent at this crisis. General sentiments, how- 
ever, must not be confounded with pohtical convic- 
tions. Regarding the latter, their unanimity was 
wonderful. There is really very little to choose 
between the most ardent Imperialist and the pro- 
nounced Little Englander, when their fundamental 
attitude towards colonies, particularly autonomous 
colonies, comes to be dissected. That may sound 
paradoxical, but it is true. Certainly, they disagree 
in their estimation, and, consequently, in their 
policy. But these are mere superficiahties. Brush 
them aside, and there is revealed, at the back of the 
stolid British mind, the firm belief that the con- 
tinued existence of the colonies is a benefit conferred 
upon them by the Mother Country. Through 
generations this conception has been handed down 
until recently the loud clamour of the daughter 
nations, for official acknowledgment of equality, 
began to tear at its roots. It has been said that 
but for the secession of the New England States, 



A STUDY OF BRITISH SENTIMENT 67 

the idea of colonial equality would never have been 
formulated. Even so, it caused genuine consterna- 
tion, though the expression was smothered in a 
frantic outburst of Imperial enthusiasm, led by 
patriotic trumpet-calls of a singularly united Press. 
This surprising unanimity should have given of itself 
careful observers pause to reflect. It suggested that 
there was something to be concealed, something to 
be held back or smoothed over. And all the din 
could not dispel the silent indignation which welled 
up in many British hearts. The pretensions were 
too enormous. Here, on the one hand, stood a 
nation welded by the storm and stress of a thou- 
sand years, by a struggle for bare existence at first, 
and afterwards for domination ; a nation which 
had shaped Empire, and still maintained it by its 
sole strength. On the other hand, there rose a 
group of immense communities hardly yet advanced 
to nationhood, never tested in the furnace of 
adversity upon quality and extent of their own 
resources : raw materials of Empire, in fact, boldly 
asking for equality. In the background, as a dim 
warning, the spectre of the American analogy was 
made to loom. Thus pressed. Great Britain pre- 
pared to concede the demand with good grace. What 
passed far below the smiling surface, in the subcon- 
sciousness of the toiling milhons, on whose ever- 
increasing exertions the grand structure is founded, 
was conveniently overlooked, and might have been 
choked in its own profoundness at last. But it 
was not given time. Japan once showed admirable 
perception of approaching convulsions in the body 
of the Russian colossus, and shaped its plans accord- 
ingly. Had its emissaries, with judgment still more 
refined, correctly gauged the symptoms which eddied 
faintly about the outskirts of Imperial enthusiasm, 
and allowed for them in the intrigue ? At any rate, 



68 THE FEET OF CLAY 

the spirited, high-souled part taken by the Common- 
wealth in the campaign for equality had not won 
many sympathies in the Mother Country. 

The members of the British Government stood 
too high, of course, to be swayed by hidden under- 
currents. Whichever party was in power, the 
leaders, once the mantle of responsibility fell their 
way, kept one aim steadily in mind — the greater 
glory of the Empire. That included the advantage 
of all its constituents, and was the one continuous 
policy. The second continuous policy embraced 
the cultivation of close friendship with certain great 
Powers and particularly the maintenance of the 
alhance with Japan. Probably it had never been 
contemplated that there could be a clash between the 
two. When it did happen, the issue, as it presented 
itself to the English Cabinet, was mainly a question 
of expediency. Its first effort was to appease Aus- 
tralian anxiety by insisting on the harmlessness of 
the incident. Japan, perfectly cordial, rendered 
the attempt abortive ^by frankness. It became, 
therefore, necessary to choose between the per- 
manent estrangement of a valuable ally and the 
passing temper of dependencies. For of the vola- 
tility of colonial resentment repeated proof existed 
within recent years. No change of front could be 
charged against the Imperial statesmen. The doc- 
trine of a white continent might well be propounded 
by the Commonwealth, but it could not be coun- 
tenanced logically by the mistress of India. She 
tolerated it as long as its victims were too feeble to 
raise effectual protests, and Australia stood strong 
enough to enforce it. Once this assurance failed, a 
full reconsideration of the position became inevit- 
able. Britannia could not unsheath her sword 
in such a cause. 
Colonial friction with foreign Powers required 



A STUDY OF BRITISH SENTIMENT 69 

careful watching. Encouragement in one quarter 
might lead to trouble in others. Young nations 
half freed from leading strings are very impul- 
sive, and prone to try conclusions without urgent 
need. The weakest point of the immense Empire 
lay in the danger of a fifth-rate disturbance on the 
periphery, thousands of miles away from the nerve 
centres, setting up irritation which might end by 
convulsing the whole body. That had to be guarded 
against, for the shock might bring down the nicely 
balanced structure of British World Pohcy, the 
result of infinite care drawn out over a number of 
years, and now heavy with promise. Japan's con- 
tinued cordial support was essential to carry the 
policy to full maturity. Austrahan aspirations, 
therefore, would have to be postponed. 

It was of material assistance to the Imperial 
Government that the British Parhament was sitting, 
and could be made the fountain-head from which 
soothing and confident declarations poured forth. 
The Opposition obeyed the time-hallowed custom 
not to create difficulties in international affairs. 
Especially where Japan was concerned, the Cabinet 
might be described as holding a brief for the entire 
nation. As usual in such circumstances, successive 
questions were asked and then pompously answered 
in the House. The replies were so framed that they 
did not leave the slightest doubt as to the hope of 
the Ministers of settling the matter quickly and 
quietly. Further, they indicated that no dictation 
from outside would be accepted by the responsible 
advisers of the Crown ; that warlike talk abroad 
should not be considered seriously ; and that official 
relations with Japan were as cordial as ever. 



CHAPTER VII 

NAVAL POWER AND WORLD POLITICS 

" 'T^HE supremacy of the British Navy ^ is the 
JL safety of Austraha, and this supremacy 
is absolute." That was the conviction in which 
the people of the Commonwealth, in spite of occa- 
sional warnings, placed their entire trust, and with 
which they justified before themselves and to the 
world, their shocking neglect of the first principles 
of defence. But while they were somnolently 
enjoying the fancied security, the world moved and 
Japan acted. It is easy to perceive, in the light 
of later events, the real meaning of the stupendous 
maritime armaments into which the Far Eastern 

1 Author's Note. — I have been careful not to overstate 
the case against British naval supremacy in 191 2. Accord- 
ing to the latest available information, Great Britain will 
have 12 ships of the Dreadnought and Invincible class afloat 
at the end of 191 1 [quasi ofi&cial), Germany 13 (official), 
Japan, about 10 or 1 1 (European estimate). It is, of course, 
recognized everywhere that England will take steps mean- 
while to prevent such an eventuality. I have assumed 
that she will double her average constructive expenditure 
for the next three years, though it does not seem likely at 
present that she will make such a tremendous effort. 
Further, that both Japan and Germany will not be able to 
execute their programmes fully within officially foresha- 
dowed time-limits, which every expert will consider a bold 
assumption. The actual naval position of Great Britain 
in 191 2 will therefore most likely be much less favourable 
than shown by me. 

TO 



NAVAL POWER AND WORLD POLITICS 71 

Power launched out immediately after the successful 
war against Russia. Its policy aimed at nothing 
less than the creation of a war fleet, strong enough 
to overawe even the Mistress of the Seas at a given 
date, under special conditions, which had been 
foreseen by the astute statesmen of Japan, who 
had fully mastered the axiom that victory, diplo- 
matic or otherwise, belongs to the side which can 
concentrate most power at the critical point. In 
the present crisis they knew that they would gain 
all if they could gain time. Whatever might be the 
extent of British indignation at first, it did not 
matter as long as it was kept in check by a sense of 
danger. Patriotic fervour cannot be bottled up. 
The Imperial authorities would soon come to see 
that Japan was still necessary to them as friend and 
ally. Then it might be reasonably expected that 
the problem of peopling the empty Northern Terri- 
tory would be left in the hands of those best able to 
solve it, regardless of the clamours of others who 
had shirked the question, and owned no battleships 
to back them up. Tokio, indeed, had built the 
foundations of its stupendous intrigue upon hard 
rock. 

In April, 1912, Japan possessed six battleships of 
the latest type, each superior to the famed English 
Dreadnought ; another monster of yet improved 
design was being equipped for sea at Nagasaki 
dockyard, to be ready for service within three 
months. Three armoured cruisers of over 18,500 
tons, with two more of 19,000 tons, rapidly approach- 
ing completion, rounded off the strictly modem 
armaments. But in addition there were the older 
vessels, which had given such excellent account of 
themselves in the late war, and the former Russian 
ships which had been captured and repaired. The 
mosquito fleet was far superor, both in quality and 



72 THE FEET OF CLAY 

number, to the one which had some years ago proved 
the terror of the enemy. For crews the navy could 
draw largely, in the event of war, upon the veterans 
who had braved the horrors of Port Arthur and 
Tsushima, the only naval corps extant which had 
actually been through battle, and was yet available 
for another round. That was probably Japan's 
greatest, and quite unique, advantage. These old 
hands would not be racked by soul-destroying 
nervousness if they should come face to face with 
death again, a nervousness sure to play havoc with 
the efficiency of adversaries who had never passed 
the ordeal, courageous and well-trained though they 
might be. Behind the veterans surged on the 
younger generation of sailors, all fired by fanatic 
patriotism and by the ambition to enable the 
achievements of the former, still fresh in everybody's 
mind, not far-off memories of traditional feats of 
glory which had happened under conditions quite 
unmodern. Position, too, favoured the Japanese. 
Sheltered behind the length and width of the Old 
World group of continents, they would be able to 
choose their own battle-ground, and any enemy 
attacking them had to do so in their centre of power, 
where they could make the decisive stand in narrow, 
dangerous seas, familiar only to them, and in con- 
junction with coastal fortifications and submerged 
mines. 

Great Britain's first fighting line consisted of the 
original Dreadnought and of twelve battleships of 
a similar, improved type, and of eight other vessels 
of nearly equal strength and much greater speed, 
which were classed as cruisers. Four more leviathan 
crafts were in course of construction, but they could 
not be made ready for sea before 1913. There was 
also an enormous host of battleships and cruisers 
of older designs, many of them superior to anything 



NAVAL POWER AND WORLD POLITICS 'j^ 

the Japanese could oppose in those classes. In 
high sea destroyers and torpedo boats England 
outnumbered its ally by two to one. 

The naval resources at the command of the Im- 
perial authorities offered, therefore, material enough 
for a combination equal to the task of blowing the 
Japanese fleet out of the water. There were, how- 
ever, several points of grave importance to be con- 
sidered. The evolution of the Dreadnought type 
had revolutionized the theories of maritime 
warfare. Enthusiasts maintain that one vessel 
of her design could sink a whole assortment of older 
battleships without much risk to herself, by reason 
of her immense superiority in gun-fire, armour, 
and speed. This opinion had been somewhat 
modified, but the new principle had been left un- 
touched, that a Dreadnought could only be matched 
by a Dreadnought, but not by any number of less 
up-to-date craft, the success of which, if possible 
at all, would depend on the incalculable quality of 
leadership. Accordingly, Great Britain, to discount 
the risk attendant on war, would have had to place 
in the fighting line at least one more Dreadnought 
than Japan could bring forward, besides providing 
for decided preponderance in the other classes. 
That meant that twelve or thirteen of the largest 
and most modern battleships and cruisers, at least 
twelve older first-class battleships, as many older 
first-class armoured cruisers, and a cloud of mosquito 
craft would have had to be despatched to the other 
side of the globe, 13,000 miles away. 

The proposition was impossible of execution, 
simply because the portion of the British Navy 
remaining in home waters, after the departure of 
such a fleet to the Far East, would not have been 
strong enough to guarantee the safety of the heart 
of the Empire against the ambitions of European 



74 THE FEET OF CLAY 

rivals. Both France and Germany would have 
been given the one and only opportunity for which 
the fiery patriots of both nations had been waiting 
in vain for generations, the chance of attempting 
the invasion of England with more than forlorn 
hopes of success. 

France happened to be on terms of close intimacy 
with Great Britain. But its people looked with 
perfect composure at the discomfiture of the Com- 
monwealth, which had prevented the annexations 
of the New Hebrides by the Republic, and was 
frankly impatient of its presence in the South Seas 
at all. The warlike Gallic spirit was certainly 
decaying steadily under the ever-increasing pressure 
on its north-eastern frontier. Yet there was no 
telling that it might not be resuscitated in sight of 
such a unique opportunity, either of its own accord 
or under the influence of outside promises and 
promptings. 

But even if France might be trusted, beside it 
rose a far more dangerous and relentless rival — 
Germany. This |" narrowly confined, yet un- 
bounded " nation, restless, unfathomable, firmly 
believing in its own glorious future, lifted on the 
highest crest of the universal wave of prosperity, 
teeming with a rapidly multiplying population, 
could not be trusted under temptation. Its for- 
ward, enterprising policy was confronted at every 
turn by the Empire, which had fathered most of the 
desirable places of the earth before the birth of modem 
Germany. The latter, therefore, had to play the 
part of the ambitious, ever watchful Jacob, out after 
a British Esau, too cunning to barter away his 
rights of primogeniture. In the immediate past 
Imperial diplomacy, backed by the Japanese alliance 
and by the entente cordiale with France, had out- 
witted Teutonic policy in several fields, and sixty-six 



NAVAL POWER AND WORLD POLITICS 75 

million Germans were still resenting the supposed 
humiliation. Would they not see the finger of 
God in an occurrence which removed the impene- 
trable naval screen from between their armies and 
the Enghsh shores ? Even official assurances of 
friendship could not have been worth anything 
under the circumstances. 

Germany had seven improved Dreadnoughts in 
active service, and two more were so far advanced 
in equipment that they could be got ready for war 
within three or four months. The keels of yet 
another four had already been laid. There were 
also four very powerful cruisers, and two more 
building. Its fleet of older battleships and cruisers 
was maintained in a state of highest sea-worthiness, 
and its mosquito craft was both numerous and 
efficient. The crews, hke the fighting machinery, 
had never been tested in grim earnest. But they 
were drawn from the seafaring population, conver- 
sant with the intimate ins and outs of their narrow, 
treacherous waters, and thoroughly trained. What 
they lacked in tradition was richly made up for by 
fierce rivalry with the army, the glory of which they 
did not despair to emulate and to surpass. 

The menace of this huge concentration of naval 
force within 500 miles from London had to be 
neutralized before the Empire could risk the hostihty 
of Japan. A new British alliance with another 
great maritime Power, if possible, might have 
checkmated Germany. Some openings may have 
suggested themselves. There was France, for 
instance, still mourning the loss of provinces for- 
feited forty years ago to the Teuton. A treaty 
binding the Empire to assist in their recovery 
within stated time-limits, as the price of immediate 
naval support, might have been accepted. Un- 
fortunately, even an Anglo-French alliance would 



76 THE FEET OF CLAY 

not have been a sure check on Germany, which 
might not consent to wait until a dispute was agree- 
able to all parties, but might crush the Republic 
under the weight of numerical superiority while 
Great Britain was engaged elsewhere. 

Russia had no fleet. It did not love the English, 
whose flirtation with the little brown men was 
responsible for the collapse of Muscovite expansion 
in Asia. Its army was nominally formidable, but 
the task of propping up the tottering autocracy 
absorbed all available energy and might have be- 
come too difficult if the German neighbour should 
decide to aid secretly the transport across the 
frontier of war material and explosives for the 
revolutionaries. Official Russia recognized that 
friendly relations with the two allied monarchies 
over the western border were its supreme necessity. 

There remained another grand possibility : the 
enlistment of the United States of America in favour 
of the British Empire. The Great Republic owned 
a splendid navy, a large part of which, stationed 
in the Pacific, could be thrown straight against 
Japan, while the Atlantic squadron, joining the 
English home fleet, would render the United King- 
dom secure against invasion. Here was a task 
worthy of a great statesman. If there really existed 
an Anglo-Saxon community of interests, as expressed 
in the famous phrase, " Blood is thicker than water," 
now was the hour to unfurl its banner in the cause 
of the white race. 

But America did not move. It was not forgotten 
that, a few years back, when its western fringe 
was in danger of being overrun by an aggressive 
influx of Japanese subjects, public opinion in Britain 
had sympathized demonstratively with the latter. 
America had triumphed over that organized attempt 
only by strong measures which led to the verge of 



NAVAL POWER AND WORLD POLITICS 77 

war, and it could, therefore, afford to watch quietly, 
as an appreciative spectator, while similar tactics 
were directed from the same quarter against an 
English dependency. Besides, there were other 
potent considerations which inclined Washington 
to adhere to a policy of masterly inactivity. Japan 
had set up as self-appointed Mentor of China, and 
was patiently instilling a taste for the material 
benefits of Western civilization into a population 
of 400 millions, whose needs, once aroused, would 
overtax the comparatively small resources of the 
teacher. Then would come the turn of wealthier 
nations to act the disinterested friend towards 
China, to find capital for the development of the 
country, and to reap, in exchange, commercial 
advantages. And the United States were deter- 
mined, in spite of temporary unpleasantness, to 
secure the lion's share, to which they were entitled 
by position and resources. To this end it was 
necessary to regain the confidence of the Asiatics, 
who were deepl}/ offended by forcible exclusion from 
America. There was only one way of doing it : 
by treating them with marked respect everywhere 
else, to prove that colour distinctions did not ex- 
tend beyond the border. 

The British Empire was America's one dangerous 
competitor in the fight for domination of the Far 
Eastern markets, and, therefore, to be distrusted. 
Its alliance with Japan increased its influence, and 
a quarrel with the ally must weaken its whole posi- 
tion. Great Britain, however, was justified in 
quarrelling, for even hair-splitting Orientals could 
hardly raise objections against its defence of a 
colony by all means, fair or foul. But America 
had no such motive. If it allowed itself to be drawn 
into an entangling alliance at this moment, Asia 
would believe that it was actuated by racial hatred. 



78 THE FEET OF CLAY 

And in the end, England's refined diplomacy might 
foist upon the partner all the blame for regrettable 
necessities, which were bound to occur in such 
a controversy, and thus divert Mongolian fury 
and resentment from itself. In that case it 
would probably succeed in keeping the United 
States out of the Far Eastern trade altogether. 
There is no gratitude in business or in politics. 

The naval armaments of smaller friendly Powers 
did not count in this crisis. Japan had chosen the 
right hour and the right place ; indeed, the stars 
in their courses seemed to fight on its side. Its 
experiences in the struggle against Russia had first 
suggested to its ally the evolution of the Dread- 
nought type, which created new conditions in mari- 
time warfare, and practically consigned the older 
classes of battleships to the scrap heap. Incident- 
ally, this development resulted in a distribution of 
sea power, which for one fateful moment, at a point 
which had escaped notice, rendered ineffective 
British naval supremacy. It was just for a short 
time. In the course of a few years overwhelming 
numbers of battleships and cruisers of latest design 
would have been flying the Union Jack. But the 
reflection is useless ; the need of Empire demanded 
immediate action, and it could not be risked. 



CHAPTER VITI 

COLONIAL FANCIES 

THE arrival at Port Darwin of the Japanese 
deputation, and the pubhc professions of 
loyalty to the British flag by its members, induced 
the Imperial Government to communicate, without 
further delay, the Mikado's offer, proposing trans- 
fer of allegiance, by official sanction, to the Common- 
wealth authorities. It was the receipt of this in- 
formation, as well as tactical party considerations, 
which led to the publication of all the cable inter- 
changes. Australian statesmen had naturally a 
much clearer insight into the political instincts by 
which the other dependencies were swayed than 
into British habits of mind. Accordingly, they 
forgot the vexation, which their indiscretion must 
cause to the latter, in their desire to rally the sister 
dominions to their side by the disclosure of the 
Japanese suggestion. Nor were they mistaken in 
their estimation of the effect. The white colonies, 
already deeply agitated by the first news of the 
fresh immigration movement, stood aghast at the 
cool proposition that a simple oath of allegiance 
to the King of England should be held sufficient to 
open a passage for the brown or yellow man into 
the jealously guarded reserves of the white race. 
Their stupor, relieved by the energetic action of 
the Federal executive, made way for a deafening 
chorus of applause, urging on Australia to persist 

7» 



8o THE FEET OF CLAY 

in its violent course, and calling upon Great Britain 
to keep its upstart ally in his proper place. 

The unanimous anxiety of the autonomous depen- 
dencies was perfectly logical ; they were all exposed 
to the same danger. Canada had recently been the 
playground of Turanian insolence, and it was rather 
due to the relentless determination of the United 
States than to British endeavours, that the Japanese 
immigration into America had been reduced to 
moderate limits. Its western seaboard, fertile and 
very thinly populated, stretched invitingly directly 
opposite the crowded eastern slopes of Asia. There 
was no guarantee that the latter might not disgorge 
another unassimilative torrent of humanity upon 
the shores of Columbia in the future, particularly if 
the idea should gain ground that the white man was 
relaxing his hold. Maoriland was in a still worse 
position. The " Little Dominion " had been even 
more intolerant of the Asiatic than its big neighbour. 
Once the coloured alien succeeded in getting a firm 
foothold there its own pohcy of exclusion would 
become untenable. Perhaps South Africa appeared 
less directly concerned for the moment. Its dis- 
tance and isolation might prove some protection. 
Troubled, however, by the indigenous negro prob- 
lem, as well as by the imported evil of a growing In- 
dian coolie population, it was also vitally interested 
in the principle that the white man's pleasure should 
be the law of the universe. So the ring was com- 
plete. Greater Britain was consolidated by common 
needs and spoke with one voice. 

And it pleaded moral justification. The re- 
strictive laws of the several colonies had all received 
the Royal assent. They were all based on the 
same premises. Clearly, therefore, if they could 
be broken with impunity in one instance, they might 
as well be abolished everywhere, for all the security 



COLONIAL FANCIES 8i 

they would give after that. There was no doubt 
that the Japanese landing in the Northern Terri- 
tory was a distinct infringement of a special act, 
which rendered all the immigrants liable not only 
to deportation, but also to a fine or imprisonment. 
But although Australia was thus concerned in 
the first place, the issue did really pass continental 
confines. It was Imperial, because the validity 
of the laws in the other colonies, was involved. 
For this reason, the oversea dominions did not ex- 
ceed their rights by demanding that Great Britain, 
as keeper of the Imperial sword, should enter the 
ring in defence of their privileges. 

England looked upon the question in quite a 
different light. It had, of course, to be admitted 
that the restrictive laws had been sanctioned. But 
the Crown could hardly be expected to investigate 
in every instance whether the self-governing 
bodies, who promoted such measure, and who were 
so suspicious of any attempt of interference by the 
central authorities, had made sure beforehand of their 
ability to carry out the clauses. A law which cannot 
be^enforced must be bad. Great Britain did not care 
to identify itself with failures. Moreover, the colonies 
had their own executives, whom they could hold 
responsible if scapegoats were required. People and 
pohticians of the Mother Country did not like being 
burdened with the consequences of the shortcom- 
ings of others. 

Excitement in the white dominions grew apace. 
At this early stage Australia managed to keep its 
indignation well in check, and its public protests, 
though firm enough, were comparatively free of 
bombast. Both Canada and Maoriland eclipsed 
it in outward show of resentment. There, even 
statesmen who had a reputation to lose, and papers 
which were known for impartiahty and moderation 

A.C. F 



82 THE FEET OF CLAY 

in ordinary times, looked upon war as a foregone 
conclusion. After the collapse of the criminal pro- 
secution of the Japanese deputation, a paroxysm 
of disappointed rage swept the two dominions, and 
the cry for war rose louder and louder. Perhaps 
this violence was not natural. It may have been 
an hysterical effort to conceal the military weak- 
ness of the colonies, which this crisis threatened to 
expose to all the world, and which could only 
remain secret if a patriotic panic in England made 
available the formidable resources of that Power 
by forcing the hands of its rulers. 

But the Imperial Government was perfectly aware 
of its peril, and retained its mastery at home by the 
judicious use of Press and Parliament. So there 
was not much danger of a sudden national stam- 
pede. All responsible men were profuse in their 
expression of sympathy with the aspirations of the 
daughter nations. Nevertheless, all insisted that 
the Japanese immigration was a local incident 
which would have to be dealt with in the ordinary 
diplomatic way. The Stock Exchange advanced 
the shares of certain cable companies in view of an 
expected increase of revenue, while the hubbub 
lasted — a rather facetious compliment. The colonies, 
however, were not in the humour to appreciate 
jokes. Exasperated by the indifference of the Bri- 
tish people they changed their tune, and threats of 
war against Japan gave way to threats of secession 
from England. •: 

Unfortunately, this was not a new theme either. 
Great Britain was becoming accustomed to these 
occasional colonial storms. There had been so 
many of them of late. The Alaska boundary 
settlement, the problem of foreign possessions in 
the South Seas, the Newfoundland fisheries dispute, 
were all cases in point. Every time there had 



COLONIAL FANCIES 83 

been a furious outburst of indignation, followed 
by resigned acceptance of the inevitable, under 
the noble plea of self-sacrifice for the sake of the 
Empire. The recollection of past scares discounted 
the effect of the latest sensation upon the stolid 
English mind, which was influenced by the talk of 
war and secession, precisely as formerly, by reports 
of Irish excesses. Instead of betraying fear and 
precipitancy, it became more obstinate and deliberate 
than ever. 

The root of the trouble was that the military 
resources of the Empire were Imperial only in name, 
as they had been paid for almost exclusively by 
the over-burdened toilers of the United Kingdom. 
Certainly, some of the colonies contributed a small 
amount for the upkeep of the navy ; yet if the whole 
sum thus received had been lumped up from the 
outset, it would hardly have been sufficient for the 
construction and maintenance of a single Dread- 
nought. Great Britain accepted the dole as evi- 
dence of good will, but without the least idea that 
the givers should thereby become entitled to a 
share in the control of the armaments, which was, 
indeed, the colonial contention, not in so many 
words, but in fact. For if the central authorities 
alone had the right to grant or to withhold the 
support of the Imperial forces, in every instance 
where foreigners threatened the interests of the 
self-governing dominions, then the latter were in 
all essentials reduced to abject dependency on 
England, in spite of airy boasts and complaisant 
acknowledgments of equality. 

The colonies had all along mistaken territorial 
bigness for power. The misleading appearance 
of wealth, which was in reality merely the expres- 
sion of the disproportion between the enormous 
natural resources of the new countries and their 



84 THE FEET OF CLAY 

smallness of population, had given them an altogether 
exaggerated idea of their own importance. Born 
in a more enlightened age, free of the inherited 
economic and political difficulties which cleft the 
Old World, they scorned the European method of 
propitiating the insatiable God of Battles, by pour- 
ing ceaseless torrents of treasure upon his altars in 
the effort to keep them bloodless. The colonies 
preferred more rational investments ; their savings 
went entirely into the work of opening up their 
vast dominions, and they also mortgaged their 
future prospects up to the hilt for the same pur- 
pose. That was well enough as long as world 
policy was a hobby confined to European nations. 
England was too vitally interested in the Balance of 
Power there, to allow any continental rival to become 
too strong, either by absorbing weaker neighbours or 
by establishing new bases in other parts of the globe, 
which might some day become formidable. A stu- 
pendous public debt still remained as a constant 
reminder of the determination with which Great 
Britain had fought for security in the past. Where 
so much had been suffered for the cause, and where, 
moreover, the probable course of future develop- 
ments was so well defined, the watchfulness of 
England might well be trusted, and its daughters 
could afford to slumber peacefully. But a change 
came over the spirit of their dreams when Japan, 
with rapid strides, leapt to the front, and was 
introduced by the Imperial Government into the 
sacred circle of Great Powers as its friend and part- 
ner in world pohtics. Some honest fanatics tried 
to rouse the sleepers. Yet, before they could make 
any deep impression colonial sentiment was drugged 
fatally by the outburst of maudlin enthusiasm, 
which rewarded the valiant ally for his feats against 
the traditional enemy^of Anglo-Saxondom, Russia. 



COLONIAL FANCIES 85 

After that the pace became furious. A new Great 
Power had arisen, removed very far from the centres 
of British naval supremacy, an aggressive Island 
Empire, dependent for its existence on the pos- 
session of an unconquerable fleet. The two mari- 
time nations were drawn together by the strongest 
impulses, for they had the choice of but two unalter- 
able alternatives : to be friends or, sooner or later, 
to fight to the death, as the globe is too small for 
two naval supremacies. Wisely, they had agreed 
on the first proposition, which promised a rich 
harvest to both. All points of difference had been 
settled, and an extended, closer alliance was formed 
on the premises of real, mutual equity. And Japan 
proceeded, at the first opportune moment, to test 
the sincerity of its friend. It began in Canada, 
but had to withdraw before the uncompromising 
attitude of the United States, who dared to enforce 
a slightly varied Monroe doctrine, even on foreign 
soil, as long as it was American. Japan, therefore, 
was compelled to select a field for its experiments 
where the Monroe doctrine did not apply. Hence 
its descent upon the Northern Territory. And the 
rudely-awakened colonies perceived too late that 
empty square miles don't fight, and that, having 
neglected to provide for independent means of 
defence, they were absolutely helpless. 

They could not even strike a blow at the invader, 
which, though perhaps insufficient in itself, might 
have placed Great Britain in the awkward position 
of either having to accept the responsibihty of such 
action, and the consequences of such moral support, 
or else of appearing to desert its children before the 
eye of an astonished world. For Japan, as well as 
the invaded district, was accessible only by sea, 
and the colonies did not own a battleship between 
them. That was the less excusable when it is 



86 THE FEET OF CLAY 

considered that much of their wealth was piled up 
on or near the seaboard, where their magnificent 
ports and capitals lie open to attack from the ocean 
or from rivers navigable for Dreadnoughts. It is 
not wonderful that in the dread hour of disillusion, 
panic shook them like the all-embracing tremors 
of an earthquake. 

Still, some good came out of sound and fury. 
In Maoriland, the charming home of grandiloquent 
epithets, the " Defence League of all the Whites " 
was formed on May 22, 1909, and spread quickly to 
Canada, South Africa, and even to the United States. 
The avowed aim of the new association was the 
creation of a centre of enthusiasm, and the raising 
of funds for armaments in the interests of Austraha. 
But this original purpose was soon overshadowed 
by its development into a recruiting organization. 
Many members emigrated to the Commonwealth, 
others persuaded or financed patriots and adventurers 
in the prime of life to do the same, all bent on re- 
sisting and repulsing by force the coloured invader. 
A considerable number of these were Americans from 
the Pacific slopes — men who did not need to be taught 
bitter hatred against the Japanese, and whose in- 
fluence can be traced in the trend of later events. 
The whole movement may be said to have one 
achievement to its credit. It properly inspired, or 
suggested in some way, the formation of the White 
Guard, of glorious and tragic memory. 



CHAPTER IX 

PARLIAMENT 

AUSTRALIA was feverish. But its symptoms 
were quite different from those manifested 
in the sister dominions, where the colder chmate 
makes people heavy and pessimistic. Of the chorus 
of rage and fierce denunciation of Japan which re- 
sounded there, Australians caught only the note of 
sympathy and applause which cheered them on to 
aggressive efforts. The British attitude was not 
understood at this early time and for this reason 
people refrained from criticizing it, the more readily 
as the Prime Minister, in a speech before the House 
immediately on the opening of the session, had recom- 
mended that nothing should be said or done to 
prejudice the position of the Imperial authorities. 
The members of the Federal Government chose to 
take a cheerful view of the future. They recog- 
nized — or said so — that caution on the part of the 
Empire was quite appropriate. So far, London had 
given no intimation that it was not prepared to insist 
on the evacuation of the Northern Territory by the 
undesirable aliens. Its fancy of exhausting, in the 
first place, all peaceful means to bring about that 
end, was certainly very trying. But the Australian 
nation, as a whole, had no suspicions of insincerity, 
being firmly convinced, in the consciousness of its 
own importance, that there was too much at stake 
for Great Britain, for Anglo-Saxondom, for White 



88 THE FEET OF CLAY 

Humanity, to allow of any lukewarmness. A little 
bewildered by the delay abroad, the citizens felt 
relieved to turn their attention to the drastic mea- 
sures and more drastic proposals of their own 
leaders. There, at last, was forward movement. 
Australia experienced the exalted sensations of a 
young hero girding his loins to beard the prowling 
enemy in his den. It had so much to do, so many 
duties to fulfil, that it really had no leisure for sad- 
eyed reflection. Everybody discussed the possi- 
bility of linking up Port Darwin by railway with the 
South and how long it would take ; or how many 
men the Commonwealth should be able to put into 
the field — some day-dreamers approached the half- 
million in their speculations. Of course, they all 
presumed that Great Britain would be there to back 
them up. 

On the opening date of the Federal session, May 
30, 1912, a proclamation was issued calling to arms 
Class I of the War Militia, comprising all the un- 
married men, and the widowers without children, 
from eighteen to thirty years of age. The fact was 
immediately communicated to Parliament and 
justified as a measure of " Resistance of an armed 
invasion of Commonwealth Territory." This, under 
the Constitution, amounted practically to a declara- 
tion of war. 

The mobilization came as a glad surprise after the 
tension of the last weeks. The liable class precipi- 
tated itself into the ranks ; if there was any regret, 
it was that of half-boys and older men that their 
time for active service had not yet come. Parlia- 
ment reflected this happy unity. For the moment, 
all party strife was hushed. Even the action of 
the Government, which curtailed the time cus- 
tomarily allowed for the discussion of the Address- 
in-Reply, met hardly with any opposition. On 



PARLIAMENT 8g 

Monday, June 3, the Coloured Inhabitants' Regis- 
tration Act was introduced and passed through all 
stages in both Houses within three days. This 
measure was dictated by the fear of treachery and 
espionage. It had been the boast of Japan, that 
before the Russian war every one of its subjects 
abroad, regardless of social station or individual 
calling, had served as a spy, whenever an oppor- 
tunity offered. People were justly afraid that simi- 
lar tactics might be repeated in Australia. The 
only means of minimizing the evil was strict control 
of all Asiatics. Under the new law, every coloured 
alien was bound to report himself to the local 
authority within a stated time, and after that once 
a year regularly. A pass was handed to him, and 
whenever he travelled from his registered place of 
residence for more than three days, his movements 
had to be officially recorded on the back of it. If 
he could not show his pass, or if the endorsements 
were not in perfect order, he became liable to im- 
prisonment until such time that he should prove 
his good faith and harmlessness. And should he 
fail to satisfy the authorities, who were ordered to 
keep detailed lists, then he was to be deported from 
the Commonwealth. 

It is to be regretted that these restrictions were 
necessary, on account of the very serious conse- 
quences. The terrible cry of treason had been 
raised now and must inevitably swell in volume as 
long as the causes of the national agitation lasted. 
So far, Australia had treated the inferior races with 
good-natured contempt. Their influx had been 
stopped, but those who had already entered were 
left alone. Now, quite suddenly, they were offi- 
cially held up to popular hatred and fury. The 
stigma of outlawry was affixed to all, Japanese, 
Chinese, Hindus, Afghans, Syrians, Negroes and 



go THE FEET OF CLAY 

others, with the single exception of the native abo- 
riginals, who were not credited with sufficient intel- 
ligence to be dangerous. Some delay occurred 
before the white citizens became fully imbued with 
the sternly repressive spirit which shaped the Regis- 
tration Act. But the seed had been sown, and in 
due course the growth of vengeful suspicion con- 
vulsed the whole community, causing endless suffer- 
ing to the innocent as surely as to the few who were 
possibly guilty. 

Contrary to routine, this Bill was at once pre- 
sented to the Governor-General for the King's 
assent. Meanwhile the House debated an Amend- 
ment to the Defence Act providing new rules with 
regard to exemptions from military duty. The 
mobilization was being carried out very thoroughly. 
Some murmurs of discontentment arose now because 
of the strictness with which every able-bodied man of 
liable age was enlisted. Commercial Britons have 
always loved to let others do the fighting for them. 
It is therefore easy to imagine what were the feelings 
of many prosperous parents and relatives who 
prided themselves on their English descent and 
habit of mind, when their young men were placed 
among the common rank and file and subjected to 
severe drill, with the prospects of a tropical cam- 
paign before them. In no country and at no time 
has it been considered a disgrace to dodge the re- 
cruiter. And it was the same in this instance. 
Forged and bought medical certificates, even artifi- 
cial crippling, were resorted to, and many a pampered 
young fellow fled by sea. 

The amendment dealt with such evasions, pro- 
viding that only the certificates of medical men who 
had been sworn in as Federal officers should be vahd. 
Every competent physician was admitted to the 
oath. High penalties were enacted against attempts 



PARLIAMENT 91 

to corrupt the officers and against all malpractices. 
It was also enacted that men who got married after 
the date of the proclamation, could not thereby- 
escape liability to military service. And the excuse 
that a liable person had made arrangements to leave 
the country prior to the proclamation was especially 
excluded from the grounds for exemption. 

The new clauses were put into operation imme- 
diately. Their harshness was, of course, resented 
violently. Young Englishmen, who had come out 
on business or for Colonial experience and had re- 
mained for over six months, but without any inten- 
tion of setthng permanently in Australia, were de- 
barred from leaving and compelled to join the army. 
The outgoing vessels were kept under close super- 
vision ; escapees who in despair had stowed them- 
selves away or had signed on as common seamen, 
were hauled back and enlisted. Cable reports of 
such occurrences found their way into the British 
Press and the ordinary reader, ignorant of the merits 
of the case and very shocked at the signs of oppres- 
sion, looked upon Australia with more unfavour- 
able eyes day by day. 

Both the Registration Act and the Defence 
Amendment may be described as non-contentious 
measures. Their passage terminated the happy 
unity of Parliament, for now the main problem 
had to be faced : the necessity of financing the 
defence of the Commonwealth, the method of which 
could not be considered apart from party princi- 
ples. Enormous sums were wanted to maintain the 
standing army and to improve its armaments. More- 
over, the Railway Bill providing for the immediate 
construction of the transcontinental railway to 
Port Darwin would call for millions. It was here 
the first cleavage occurred between the Moderates, 
who represented the more conservative interests, 



92 THE FEET OF CLAY 

and the ardent patriots, who preferred to suffer 
everything rather than surrender the White Austra- 
ha ideal and who inckided not only people of every 
political persuasion willing to place fatherland be- 
fore faction in the hour of national danger, even at 
the risk of offending British traditions, but also the 
entire Federal Labour Party. Mainly because of 
their connexion with the latter, they were soon 
dubbed " Extremists " by their opponents. Under 
that name, used at first as a reproach, and then ap- 
propriated as a term of distinction, like so many 
political appellations of the past, they will go down 
to history. 

Once the Party spirit revived the Parliamentary 
struggle became very confused. Until then, the 
Commonwealth, as apart from the States, had never 
raised a loan. Now, Government proposed to do so. 
In addition, it introduced fresh taxation. To begin 
with, a Federal income-tax of two shillings in the 
pound on all annual incomes exceeding £150. Though 
this was an enormous impost, even the Moderates 
agreed to the principle, well aware that sacrifices 
were necessary, and only strove to reduce the rate. 
But it was merely a commencement. For the Govern- 
ment also insisted on the graduated land tax. So 
far the advocacy of such a measure had been associ- 
ated exclusively with the Labour Party, who had 
never been able to convince a majority of the people 
of its expediency. That the present crisis was used 
to push it forward, enraged the Moderates. It was 
felt as a party affront. And the representatives 
of vested interests resented this attempted socialistic 
spoliation, as they termed it, and resolved to resist 
firmly. 

The Moderates, on the whole, were certainly as 
patriotic as other Australians. True, they paid 
more deference to the sentiment of the Mother 



PARLIAMENT 93 

Country, which to many of them was " Home." 
And they were naturally more cautious, since they 
stood for the commercial and industrial proprietors, 
for the men of means and big landholders, who had 
most to lose. Some of their acknowledged leaders 
had not always been over-careful in their utterances 
as to the merits of the Commonwealth case. But 
they would have died as gladly as any of their com- 
patriots in defence of their country's rights against 
the invasion of the Asiatic Power. Their objections 
to a graduated land tax were quite natural. Once 
the latter had become law, its principle acknowledged, 
law it would probably remain long after the imme- 
diate cause for its adoption had passed away. Be- 
fore Federation, the predecessors of the modern 
Moderates had ruled the various States. In those 
days, the remedy for every financial difficulty had 
been borrowing. The result was that to-day four 
millions of people owed nearly 250 million pounds 
sterling to the British investor. It did not seem 
to hurt them. Why not follow the time-honoured 
device ? The Moderates advocated another big loan, 
and were willing to vote a solid income-tax for the 
interest service. Further they would not, could 
not, dared not go. 

On the other hand, the Government insisted on 
its graduated land tax. There was no party spirit 
prompting it. The crisis had not swept away politi- 
cal principles of a lifetime, but no reasonable Austra- 
lian thought of faction strife just then. The facts 
were plain. The Commonwealth was entering the 
gates of a future of which nobody could foretell 
the portents. Was it wise, was it dignified to 
pledge the public credit at once to its utmost limits, 
without an honest attempt to pay out of the national 
pocket for the national cause ? Was it even possi- 
ble ? London was not exactly enthusiastic, to say 



94 THE FEET OF CLAY 

the least. A financial rebuff at this juncture might 
be disastrous. (Nobody, of course, had any idea of 
what was to happen shortly.) But London might 
be humoured by the creation of good security. 
The income tax was one means. And the grad- 
uated land tax ? It was the only other way of 
raising a large annual amount. It had been talked 
about for many years. It had many supporters. 
It would not come as a shock to the people, because 
they were already acquainted with the idea. And 
money had to be found. That was why the Govern- 
ment was so determined about it. 

So the Parliament battle began. Meanwhile the 
people looked on stupefied. They only knew that 
the Continent was in danger, that every moment 
was precious, that millions of money were wanted. 
Why was a whole week wasted in talk ? Why could 
not their Representatives agree ? Land tax or 
no land tax, the people were not in the mood for 
listening to technicalities. Deeds, not words ! Find 
money ! In the heat of the financial contest, each 
side overstated its case. The Moderates were quite 
willing to pass the income tax, even two shillings 
if it could not be helped. But as good Parliamen- 
tarians they could not have done so without pointing 
out the enormity of their unselfishness. Was not 
direct taxation reserved to the States ? Look here, 
how patriotic we are ! We sacrifice all ancient 
traditions — it should entitle us to consideration in 
other respects ! The people outside are muttering : 
the States ! Who thought of them ? Common- 
wealth in danger, not States ! 

The other side is as explicit. Behind Govern- 
ment, the Labour Party is fighting. None of their 
responsible leaders would think of taking mean 
party advantages now. The people outside re- 
gard them with friendly eyes. They have always 



PARLIAMENT 95 

stood for White Australia. Also the graduated 
land tax has for long been a plank in their platform. 
But why re-state these things ? It takes time 
even to tell truth, and time is precious ! They have 
not the slightest wish to dwell on these facts. And 
yet, in the heat of debate ! Ah, the people out- 
side are out of order. Parliament, with the best of 
intentions, is settling down to raise points. The 
Long Parliament did so, once, around a tottering 
throne. Likewise a Congress, while a Sub-Con- 
tinent was blazing to the sky. And a National 
Convention of France, with Hell hissing from every 
crevice beneath it. It is the chief delight, the 
second nature of all elected persons at all times. 
A whole week lost ! Something will have to 
happen. Ah, what is this, this fierce cry of rage, 
like the shout of a Continent ? Something has hap- 
pened ! In the midst of hopeless confusion the 
Governor-General has announced that he has been 
instructed to withhold assent from the Coloured 
Inhabitants' Registration Act, on the ground that it 
is directly opposed to British principles of fairness 
and offensive to the coloured subjects of the Empire. 
A bombshell could not have had an effect more 
deadly. All AustraHa is suddenly awakening to a 
sense of its isolation. Government resigns at once 
(June 19). Melbourne, faithful Melbourne, threatens 
to lynch everybody who gives way on the colour 
issue. Did not some prominent Moderates counsel 
confidence in England but a short while ago ? These 
Moderates will have to live in the House. Woe to 
those away in the country. They are marked men, 
exposed to the first fury of a disillusioned populace, 
insulted, even maltreated. Let nobody dare to 
form an administration while the Imperial authori- 
ties refuse to sanction the Registration Act. His 
blood upon himself ! The State Governors even 



96 THE FEET OF CLAY 

are moved to action. They report that no hving 
soul can accept responsibihty for the pubHc peace 
as long as this matter remains unsettled. Never 
before have the cable operators worked so feverishly. 

London hstens. London waits. Nearly another 
week is gone. The excitement has not abated one 
jot. Instead, it has spread round the globe, to the 
Sister Dominions. They all call on the Mother to 
honour the will of a free Daughter Nation. London 
wavers. In the British Parliament the Colonial 
Secretary explains that the measure includes all 
coloured races and is therefore not directed speci- 
ally against the Japanese. (Hear ! hear !) Australia 
holds its breath. Yes, the Crown grants assent at 
last (June 26). But listem! On the understanding 
that the Federal Executive is sure of its own ability 
to enforce the Act. So let it be law ! 

Government is reconstructed at once. Nobody 
cares about the singular British reservation, which, 
in plain language, means that England disavows its 
obligation to see that the law is respected. Austra- 
lia will look to that ! But shall the financial hag- 
gling now start afresh ? Wait a moment ! Did not 
some hunted persons, during the period of national 
delirium, appeal to the authority of the States, 
since the Commonwealth was headless, heedless ? 
Were there not some responses of smothered eager- 
ness ? Nothing has come of it, nor shall ever come 
of it. Resolution proposed by the Leader of the 
Federal Labour Party : " That until after the 
expulsion of the Japanese occupation force the 
High Court shall not hear appeals on behalf of the 
States against any action of the Federal Executive 
as approved by Commonwealth Parliament." Inter 
arma silent leges. In vain the Moderates fight to 
the last ditch. The resolution passes the Represen- 
tatives' by a majority of seven, the Senate by three 



PARLIAMENT 97 

It is the end. The same majorities vote two 
shillings income tax, land tax, loan of two millions, 
which, alas, shall never eventuate. Outside the 
people cry with one voice : Dissolution ! New 
elections ! The Sovereign of Australia wants to 
take his fate into his own hands and to re-fashion 
his court. Some time, of course, has still to be 
spent, usefully now. 

On July 12 the Fourth Parliament of the Com- 
monwealth dies. Double Dissolution it is, befitting 
the national crisis. The Orators have had their 
day. Now let the People act ! 



k.c 



CHAPTER X 

PAX BRITANNICA 

THE events under review being of contemporary 
occurrence it is naturally impossible to lay 
bare the hidden springs which actuated international 
politics and the workings of which may fully account 
for the cautious restraint of the Imperial authorities. 
Secret motives and silent struggles must, of course, 
have existed, but they are not touched on in the 
communications between London and Melbourne, 
and between London and Tokio, which the British 
Government has found advisable to publish at 
different times for the information of Parliament. 
These, together with some duly authenticated, 
generally hazy ministerial utterances, form the only 
supply of official intelligence accessible at present. 
Everything beyond is uncertain. Unfortunately, 
the period is too recent by nearly a generation for 
those delightful indiscretions called memoirs. 

The Governments of Japan and China protested 
against the Coloured Inhabitants' Registration Act 
as soon as its clauses became known. Japan's 
objections raised no ire in England. That nation 
was regarded as an equal. But that even the 
Chinamen should dare to remonstrate, and in such 
formidable company, was an innovation which 
could not be stomached lightly by the Empire-con- 
scious Britons. By the perversity of fate, their 
resentment fell not so much upon the Chinaman 



PAX BRITANNICA 99 

as on the Colony which had made such a sHght 
possible. The protest and the popular distaste 
had probably some connexion with the refusal 
of the King's assent to the measure. And when the 
sanction was granted at last, the Imperial author- 
ities, apart from the special reservation mentioned 
before, thought fit to request the Federal Govern- 
ment not to take any further restrictive steps 
without consulting them in advance. They particu- 
larly warned against any attempt to subject the 
Japanese immigrants to a violent police persecution 
as threatened by the dispatch of a force of con- 
stabulary to the Northern Territory, on the ground 
that such a course was calculated to drive the 
refugees to despair and might result in armed 
resistance and bloodshed. The Commonwealth 
was, however, officially assured that its just rights 
would be protected by all the forces of the Empire. 
This was vague comfort, at best, and it drew, con- 
sequently, merely an evasive reply. The haste 
and harshness with which the provisions of the new 
act were brought into play soon taught the British 
Government that verbal behests on its part were 
apt to be overlooked. 

It became therefore necessary to show plainly 
who was in reality master of the situation. The 
means employed for the purpose were most emphatic. 
In the evening of July i, all serviceable vessels of 
the Australian squadron left port. Only three 
small craft remained behind, together with the old 
gunboat Protector, which represented the Common- 
wealth-owned navy in its entirety. Two days 
after the departure the British Government coolly 
informed the Federal Cabinet that colonial provoca- 
tions were disturbing the friendly relations between 
the Empire and its neighbours, and that it had been 
compelled thereby to concentrate the fleet in 



100 THE FEET OF CLAY 

Eastern waters, at Singapore, as a preparation for 
all eventualities. 

There were voiced in Australia no wild official 
protests against the withdrawal of the naval screen. 
Only once was the matter referred to in a dignified 
manner in the Federal Parliament. Expressions 
of disgust were left to the Sister-Dominions, which 
did not disappoint expectations. A perfect yell 
of execration went up in New Zealand and in Canada. 

Especially in the latter colony the Press and the 
politicians threw moderation to the winds. Old- 
estabhshed, reputable papers charged the Imperial 
authorities with selling their white dependencies 
to their yellow allies, and dehvering them over 
bound hand and foot. Responsible Canadian 
statesmen indulged in self-congratulations that 
they, at least, had not spent money on a foreign 
navy to be left in the ditch in the hour of need. In 
New Zealand, a Minister of the Crown refused to be 
interviewed on the subject, stating as his reason 
that he could not help talking high treason if he 
opened his mouth. The sudden explosion alarmed 
the people of the United Kingdom and had far- 
reaching results. But it did not frighten the 
British Government, which knew that it was so 
much empty sound. 

Its members were far more concerned about the 
reports regarding internal developments in the 
Commonwealth. The overthrow of the Moderates, 
the rise and popularity of the Extremists, and the 
forcible opening of new sources of revenue which 
promised to provide the money needed to open 
active hostiHties against the Japanese immigrants, 
were so many danger signals. Only in the Northern 
Territory was an immediate clash between organized 
forces of both races possible. So far the special 
constabulary had Umited their efforts to Port 



PAX BRITANNICA loi 

Darwin and the neighbourhood of the railway, 
where they found ample work to do. The tributary 
system of mining was suppressed, and a maj ority of 
the Chinese were deprived in this way of their 
livelihood. Some whites who were disliked because 
of their familiarity with the coloured scum were 
tried on trumped-up charges and shipped south. 
But now Palmerston district was reduced to order, 
and open preparations were made for an expedition 
into the invaded territory. Already rumours gained 
currency that the police were to be reinforced by 
militia. The execution of this design would bring 
matters to a climax at once. 

It seems that Tokio, during this anxious period, 
abstained carefully from identifying itself with its 
emigrants to the Commonwealth. Nevertheless, it is 
only natural to suppose that the Japanese statesmen 
paid close attention to the drift of events and that 
they entertained grave fears that the presence and 
plans of the constabulary might precipitate a crisis. 
There were other threatening developments. Since 
the first half of June an irregular corps of bushmen, 
intent on making merciless war on the invaders, 
was forming in North Queensland. It was called the 
White Guard, and all the most determined men and 
pioneers of the back blocks were enlisting in it. 
Hand in hand with this movement went an ever- 
growing bitterness against the coloured aliens. Most 
probably the Japanese Government had agents who 
kept it well informed of these complications. Whether 
and how far it used its knowledge to impress on its 
ally the necessity for rapid, energetic action, must 
remain pure conjecture in the absence of docu- 
mentary evidence to date. 

The suggestive fact is that on July 12 the Imperial 
Government proclaimed the north coast of Australia 
between degrees 132 East and 137 East a closed 



102 THE FEET OF CLAY 

area for ordinary navigation purposes. All landing 
and discharging operations within these limits 
were prohibited except in the case of vessels furnished 
with special certificates signed by a nominated 
Imperial agent or by an officer of the British navy. 
Vessels without such permit approaching to within 
three miles of the mainland were declared liable 
to confiscation with all cargo. To enforce these 
rules, cruisers were despatched from Singapore. A 
gunboat anchored off Port Darwin. Its commander 
had orders to supervise the shipping at that port. 
A strict watch was kept also over the Western 
shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria by patrolling 
men-of-war. Of course, no difficulties were put in 
the way of through navigation from Port Darwin to 
Bourketown and further east, so that the inter- 
colonial and oversea trade was not interfered with. 
But the measure practically cut off the invaded 
territory from the nerve-centres of the Common- 
wealth, as no convenient overland routes existed. 
Moreover, to complete the isolation, the commander 
of the gunboat off Port Darwin was vested with 
Imperial authority to control not only the waters, but 
the dry land as well, for the proclamation empowered 
him to take such precautions, within a coastal 
stretch twenty miles wide, as he might consider 
necessary to ensure the proper working of the 
maritime restrictions. Though the Japanese immi- 
grants were not mentioned once in the extraordinary 
decree, it was evident to all observers that it was 
entirely in their favour, and that further proceedings 
against them from Port Darwin were made depend- 
ent on the sanction of an Imperial naval officer. 
And thus the use by Australia of the only base within 
striking distance of the enemy was suspended. 

This meant, to all intents and purposes, the 
arbitrary establishment of a British protectorate 



PAX BRITANNICA 103 

over part of the Commonwealth. Tokio professed 
immediately to look upon it as such, and instructed 
its ambassador to entreat the English Government 
to garrison the settlements of the refugees by an 
Imperial force, on the ground that this step would 
serve best to refute the invidious colonial aspersions 
that Japan was coveting Australian soil. 

Downing Street considered it prudent to explain 
the motives for its action and to disavow the ulterior 
aims which were charged against it in an official 
communication addressed to all autonomous colonial 
Governments. This document, which was published 
at once, laid stress on the point that British pro- 
tection, and still more British citizenship, formed a 
privilege which could only be extended to applicants 
who conformed to a certain standard. There was 
no attempt to define the standard in the document, 
which, however, ran on with the reassuring state- 
ment that there was no reason to apply different 
rules in the present case. The temporary control 
of a small stretch of Australian coast line, it con- 
tinued, was decided on for reasons of expediency, 
and questioned in no way the sovereignty of the 
Commonwealth. But as it was clear that the 
latter was not in a position to deal with the difficulty 
single-handed, Great Britain had to step in. This 
necessity had not converted the closed area into 
a protectorate, and no British garrison would be 
placed there. 

As a further sop for the self-governing dominions, 
the Imperial authorities suddenly adopted towards 
Tokio an attitude of impartial firmness. The 
Mikado's offer was curtly rejected as an attempt 
to force citizens upon an unwilling nation. His 
Majesty's Government regretted that subjects of 
an allied Power had created, by tactless management, 
an untenable situation. Imperial claims must 



104 THE FEET OF CLAY 

prevail on Imperial soil. The maritime restrictions 
would be enforced against Japanese shipping with 
equal thoroughness as against every other flag. 
And any interference with Commonwealth naviga- 
tion by Japanese craft would be regarded as an 
unfriendly act. 

The concluding sentences of the declaration of 
pohcy were calculated to appease Australian anxiety. 
For rumours were about that warships flying the 
ensign of the Rising Sun had been seen hovering 
off the coast, and the excited people believed that 
their mission was to pounce upon the unprotected 
shipping. Although the absurdity of the idea was 
palpable, its circulation had already led, in the 
general nervousness, to a rise of the local maritime 
insurance rates. It is doubtful whether the belated 
and merely verbal demonstration regained many 
colonial sympathies. But it is certain that the 
strong language of the British Government created 
widespread consternation in England. There the 
financial reaction caused by the long drawn-out dis- 
turbance overshadowed more and more the political 
interest. And a sudden fear of further complica- 
tions, even of war, removed the last sentimental 
barrier against a panic in colonial securities. 



The London Stock Exchange had taken jokingly 
the first reports of a Japanese invasion of Austraha. 
Antipodean stocks were looked upon favourably, 
on the whole, in consequence of the very satisfactory 
harvest of the preceding year. Quotations ruled 
rather high, for the prospects of another splendid 
season as the result of sufficient early rainfalls were 
just being discounted. The economic outlook in 
the other self-governing dependencies being simi- 
larly reassuring, the condition of the markets for 



PAX BRITANNICA 105 

colonial state-land and railway securities could be 
summed up as remarkably healthy at the opening 
of the second quarter, 1912. 

When the official Tokio explanation became 
known, consols declined slightly, but recovered 
quickly on the calmness shown by the Imperial 
Government. The big financial interests lent their 
support to steady the home funds, for now that 
cheaper money could be expected for the summer 
months the ground was being prepared already for 
a general rise in the more speculative markets, 
and a decided weakness in gilt-edged values would 
have spoiled the game. On reflection, this inflow 
of coloured labour into the empty spaces of the 
tropical Northern Territory was voted rather a 
good thing, and all the better if it should become a 
permanency. 

But there was a small well-informed section 
with oversea connexions who quickly discerned 
great possibilities of a political scare. Quietly, a 
bear position was reared. It is not probable that 
the professionals committed themselves heavily at 
the outset : first honours, as is Stock Exchange 
custom in ticklish cases, went no doubt to gay outside 
plungers who exist to be egged on and sucked dry. 
Australian stocks began to give way. Next settle- 
ment disclosed a huge bear account. These pioneers 
fare badly, for strong forces counteracted the 
dechne. People considered that the Common- 
wealth pace was too tremendous to last, even with 
all the applause of the Sister-Dominions thrown in. 
The line of policy which the Imperial Government 
proposed to follow became more clearly visible and 
inspired confidence. The fear of international 
complications diminished accordingly. A satis- 
factory solution was regarded as possible any day, 
after which the bulls were expected to have a great 



io6 THE FEET OF CLAY 

innings. This uncertainty, tempered with hope- 
fulness, made prices move in jerks, now up, now 
down, within narrow Hmits. 

Then came, as eye-openers, news of the mobihza- 
tion, of the Registration Act and of the crisis in its 
wake. They marked the first serious set-back of 
high-class securities and the jubilant inrush of 
professional bears who were badly bitten however, 
for a vigorous rebound followed — the British 
Treasury had entered the fight. Large amounts 
of consols were taken up. It was rumoured that 
the Government had fathered a trust formed by 
leading banks and capitalists to back colonial issues 
from time to time, when the depression became too 
pronounced. No doubt the responsible statesmen 
wished to financially assist the daughter nations, in 
the hope that generous economic support would 
dispel the growing distrust of the latter and would 
render them more tractable with regard to political 
necessities. 

The Stock Exchange, which was adversely in- 
fluenced by the protest of the Far Eastern Powers, 
became more cheerful immediately afterwards on 
the report of the withdrawal of the Australian 
squadron, which was hailed as a well-deserved 
disciplinary lesson for the colonies, and turned 
gloomy again in contemplation of the overthrow 
of the Moderates in the Commonwealth and of 
the frenzy raging in the sister-dominions. The 
tension was now approaching the danger point, 
but was relieved once more by the estab- 
lishment of British control over the invaded 
territory. Then came the strong note to Tokio, 
and vague fears of the possibility of war began to 
haunt the prosperous classes of England. Their 
alarm found expression in a steady stream of sales 
of all kinds of securities. Once this instinctive 



PAX BRITANNICA 107 

movement was fairly started its persistence defeated 
every attempt to stem it. And suddenly the bot- 
tom dropped out of the colonial markets altogether. 
Curiously enough, the first big raid was made not 
on Australian stocks but on Canadian issues. This 
flank attack showed rare disquisition. Perhaps 
it was accidental. But it carries the suspicion that 
at last the master minds of British High Finance had 
determined on severe chastisement of the obstrep- 
erous dependencies. If so, their strategy was 
helped by the fact that Canadian funds ranged 
considerably higher than the Antipodean equiva- 
lents, without possessing a larger intrinsic value. 
The reason for this was purely sentimental : it was 
a manifestation of the popular conviction that the 
trend of Canadian legislation had so far been more 
closely on time-honoured English lines. That 
sentiment being rudely shaken by the uncompromis- 
ing advocacy in the Great American dominion of 
Commonwealth methods, the higher prices were 
no longer j ustified before critical eyes. Consequently 
Canadian Threes dropped six points within a few 
hours. In the midst of wild panic, the more specu- 
lative issues followed the head. Canadian Pacific 
Railway shares lost nearly twenty points before 
pulling up. Grand Trunk Railway, Hudson's Bay 
and industrial ventures suffered in proportion. 
There was no holding back the inevitable after 
that. The haisse tendency spread to other depart- 
ments. All Australian and New Zealand values 
tumbled heavily. It became now apparent that 
the system, championed by colonial treasurers, of 
draining their states of every surplus shilling so 
that they may pick up a profit by investment, for 
fixed periods, at good rates of interest, in London, 
was at best a fair-weather luxury. At the critical 
moment, when ready money at call might have 



io8 THE FEET OF CLAY 

done wonders, all the cash was locked up and 
unavailable. 

Next day many descriptions of stock were 
practically unsaleable. Support had ceased. Prob- 
ably the British Government had been converted 
to the opinion that the cause of peace would be 
served best by the debacle of colonial finance. 
Even if it had been willing to help, it had no moral 
influence. For the economic policy of Great Britain, 
the unrestricted licence of the individual which 
is affected there as the commercial ideal, has inter- 
nationalized the London Stock Exchange and has 
emancipated it from official control. It has become 
impossible to emulate the example of Continental 
Powers who, at times, have transformed the courses 
of their capitals into machines for waging financial 
warfare against a political enemy. Even unruly 
Wall Street is not unmindful of hints from Washing- 
ton, because its money kings are dependent on 
indirect support from the national treasury in 
periods of scare and stress. But the London Stock 
Exchange acknowledges only one dominating 
factor : money power. 

It seems that Japan had studied the financial side 
of the problem with its usual thoroughness. Its 
various funds lost some points during the first week 
of the panic, mostly on large continental sales. A 
few English papers, indeed, commented on the un- 
patriotic method of smashing Imperial values 
while the securities of the country with which the 
whole disturbance originated were maintained at a 
high level. Very little attention was paid in London 
to such exhortations. The bulk of the prosperous 
classes was against quarrels with the ally — now 
more than ever. For the losses were quite big 
enough already, without any further engineerings 
of international panics. Moreover, a severe fall 



PAX BRITANNICA 109 

in Japanese funds could only be brought about 
by spreading and magnifying the fears of war, 
which course would have been certain to affect 
adversely the price of consols and to lead to still 
further complications. And the great banks and 
capitalists were vitally interested that the ring 
should be kept, that the trouble should be confined 
to the colonial field. There were, nevertheless, 
some adventurous baisse speculators who organized 
attacks against the Japanese issues and occasionally 
succeeded in depressing them sharply. But the 
agents of Tokio had enormous gold reserves — part 
of the last loan — at their disposal in London, New 
York and^Paris, and soon forced quotations up again. 
Subsequent events impaired the credit of Australia 
further. Apart from temporary slight recoveries the 
prices of its State issues continued on the downward 
grade, until in the darkest days of the Common- 
wealth the old Victorian and New South Wales 
Threes went begging at half their face values. 

Never before had the airy pretentions of depen- 
dencies been reduced to more complete absurdity. 
The shallowness of the talk of perfect equality, 
of the right of autonomous states to shape their 
own destinies, was glaringly exposed. British 
supremacy had successfully asserted itself. Not by 
violent altercations or by force, but by the simple 
process of lowering the values of colonial stock. 
It was in vain that the victims shrieked furiously, 
and that they denounced the methods of the mani- 
pulators of the collapse. Undeniably there were 
sounds reasons for the decline, which the sordid 
features surrounding it could not do away with. It 
was all very fine to sing high Imperial strains in 
quiet times. But when the tail tried to wag the 
dog, when a few free and easy millions attempted to 



no THE FEET OF CLAY 

overlord the toiling masses of the United Kingdom 
who paid for the display, then the make-believe of 
pretty phrases and ornaments had to be brushed 
aside. Without regard for the sufferings of indi- 
viduals, great Britain seized the baton. It was true 
that the act involved tremendous sacrifice. Many 
millions of pounds were lost to the backbone of 
Imperial power, the sober, steady English and 
Scottish middle classes. That, however, was merely 
a rearrangement of wealth, and the disadvantages 
might be turned to profit in the long run, if the 
decline was severe and lasting enough to cause 
a permanently higher rate of colonial interest on 
loans advanced by the mother country. 

Nevertheless, the cruel lesson did not have all 
at once the desired effect on Australia. There was 
too much at stake for it. It could not acknow- 
ledge the mastery of London on any conditions 
at this moment. It was actually invaded, and the 
surrender of its principles might have meant its 
extinction as a white nation. Besides, the force 
of the blow was not realized fully because the citizens 
of the Commonwealth were kept in excitement by 
internal political developments, which appeared far 
more important to them. Indeed, nothing could 
have driven more disciples into the ranks of the 
Extremists than the financial collapse, which must 
be held largely responsible for the civic convulsions 
which followed. 

But the Sister Dominions were stunned by the 
shock. The complete cutting off of the national 
credit sobered the calmer leaders. Appeals to 
caution were heard above the last wild shrieks 
for instant succession. That proposition was 
settled, anyhow. It was recognized that the colo- 
nies were wholly subject to public opinion in 
England, and that they would have to fall into 



PAX BRITANNICA iii 

line with the declared British policy regardless 
of their own wishes, whenever their opposition 
was taken so seriously as to lead to panic in 
London, The outlook was black. Many self- 
governing states had millions of loan funds falling due 
at early dates, which must be renewed. Most of 
them had started works, the progress of which called 
for more loan money. Nearly all had borrowed 
already to the limit, confident of the exhaustlessness 
of the British purse and of the splendours of their own 
future. Even in good times only a small part of the 
sums required for development could be secured 
locally. A further part might be had in France, 
perhaps, provided that deep peace reigned. Under 
present circumstances the pockets of the whole 
world were sealed against colonial needs. 

Thus the White Dominions had pawned the right 
to work out their own destinies and to go their own 
way. They had pledged so recklessly the national 
credit, and thereby national independence and 
honour, that they had become counters in a game 
in which they had no say. It was no use blinking 
the facts. There is no equality between creditor 
and debtor if the latter cannot meet his bills without 
the help of the former. This unlooked-for position 
had now arisen : the colonies had no option but to 
propitiate London by conforming to its views on 
international issues. After some vexatious delay, 
they might hope to be allowed again to negotiate 
for financial accommodation on reasonable terms, 
though, perhaps, they would have to consent to a 
higher rate of interest than they were used to in the 
past. 

Some time elapsed, of course, before the return 
to unquestioning loyalty by Canada, New Zealand, 
and South Africa was complete. For several weeks 
after the Stock Exchange panic, colonial indignation 



113 THE FEET OF CLAY 

seemed to lose nothing of its intensity of expression. 
Popular orators still bragged of the national abihty 
to stand alone, of being at the mercy of none. But 
one by one the politicians with any aspirations 
to responsibihty dropped out of the performance. 
The language of the leading papers became moderate. 
The " Defence League of All the Whites " began 
to show signs of paralysis, brought on by the retire- 
ment or cool reserve of its wealthiest members. 
Those who persevered began to lose caste. It was 
not that the sympathy with Commonwealth aims 
diminished. But deference to the sentiments which 
swayed the great heart of the Empire was of higher 
importance, loyal acquiescence in the world policy 
of the Central Government took precedence before 
all other considerations. Once more Pax Britannica 
ruled triumphant. 



CHAPTER XI 

FUROR AUSTRALIENSIS 

SO Australia, at last, was made to wake up — 
under sledge-hammer blows : Imperial at- 
tempt of legislative interference, annihilation of 
naval screen, isolation of the invaded territory, 
debacle of public finance ; under such an avalanche 
of disasters the young Commonwealth staggered 
into consciousness of its desperate position. But 
it was no longer a merciful Commonwealth march- 
ing proudly in the van of humanitarian effort. It 
was a wounded giant groping blindly round, in the 
first fierce transport of rage, for something he might 
wreak vengeance on — for some victim. In vain the 
beginnings of the election campaign ! That could 
wait. Later, when its time was ripe, it would grow 
of itself into that raging, tearing convulsion known 
to history, for good reasons, as the " Flaming 
Elections." At present the elections seemed too 
far off to attract popular passion. Some immediate 
scapegoat was wanted. And who was nearer than 
the unfortunate coloured aliens still residing in the 
country ? So far the genius of Australia had been 
opposed to the infliction of personal revenge on 
private individuals for failings of the race to which 
they belonged. But where so many sacred illusions 
were swept away, this fine generosity could not last 
much longer. Imperceptibly and rapidly the idea 



A.C. 



113 



114 THE FEET OF CLAY 

gained ground that it must be the first and foremost 
business of Austraha to get rid of the Asiatics alto- 
gether, before other problems could be taken in 
hand. At ^this moment immigrants from the 
western slope of North America began to enter the 
Commonwealth, firstfruits of the " Defence League 
of All the Whites." The new arrivals were yet few 
in number, but quite sufficient to permeate the 
seething multitudes with Yankee notions of race 
standards and with Yankee methods of dealing with 
inferior races. 

The storm broke in Melbourne. A pushing 
Emporium there, famous for topical advertisements, 
alluded in one of these to the universal brotherhood 
of man. It also exhibited in one of its show win- 
dows a white and a yellow figure shaking hands 
over a conciliatory motto. Of course commercia.1 
men might wish for relaxation of the tension, but a 
more ridiculous blunder could not have been made 
just then. Crowds assembled in front of the shop 
and soon became threatening. The window was 
smashed and the whole concern on the point of 
being sacked. Only the valour of the police and 
the presence of mind of the proprietor saved the 
situation. Big posters were made hurriedly and 
pasted everywhere, reading : " Down with the 
Japs," " No quarter for Mongolians," " White 
Australia for ever," a change of mind which satis- 
fied the besiegers and proved a sound stroke of 
business as well. From that moment onward nearly 
all shops displayed signs : " No coloured people 
served." The boycott had begun. 

It was merely the prelude to racial convulsions 
all over the Continent. Some of the worst excesses 
have become known as the Sydney Riots. 

The immediate cause was a quarrel on board a 
ferry steamer on Saturday afternoon (July 13). A 



FUROR AUSTRALTENSIS 115 

couple of Chinamen were accused of having an- 
noyed, either by looks or words, some white girls. 
In the end the alleged offenders were thrown into 
the harbour. When the boat arrived at Circular 
Quay the police made an attempt to arrest the 
supposed ringleaders. But they were rescued by 
other passengers. The Quay is always crowded. 
Soon thousands thronged round the wharf where 
the disturbance took place. They were thickly 
interspersed with rough elements, who quickly 
got tired of looking on passively. Some Japanese 
seamen from a Nippon Yushan Kaisha steamer 
which was in port, passed at this moment and were 
subjected to jeering remarks. Other coloured 
marines received the same attention. There are 
generally plenty of them about in that quarter 
on their way between the City and the transoceanic 
steamers. Feeling secure by reason of numbers of 
supporters within, call, they did not conceal their 
resentment. A gang of half -grown boys, embold- 
ened by the chance of exhibiting pluck before a 
large audience, thereupon began to pelt them with 
dirt. The coloured men retaliated forcibly and some 
young fellows were badly beaten. This spectacle 
infuriated the crowd, while the noise attracted 
comrades of the seamen from the ships near by. 
They brought iron bars and other heavy weapons as 
means of defence. The opposing forces soon came 
to blows and a pitched battle raged between the 
white riff-raff on the one hand and a yelling mul- 
titude of maddened Lascars, Chinamen, Japanese 
and other Asiatics on the other. Knives and re- 
volvers came into play. Night had fallen before 
the police, compelled to side with the populace and to 
use freely their firearms, succeeded in crushing the 
resistance of the coloured crews. About a dozen of 
the fighters and some harmless citizens caught in 



ii6 THE FEET OF CLAY 

the throng lost their Hves, and many more were 
wounded. 

Crazy with the sight and scent of blood, the 
masses surged up town, amidst cries of revenge. 
Their numbers were continually swelled by fresh 
recruits. A huge mob assembled round Belmore 
Markets, on the other end of the City, in the Chinese 
quarter. On Saturday nights a cheap fair used to 
be held there, which attracted, beside a large con- 
tingent of the poorer decent classes, a goodly percen- 
tage of the lowest scum. Many selling-booths were 
hired by Orientals and the coloured element was 
much in evidence. It is not probable that a de- 
monstration there had been planned beforehand. 
Rather it may have been that the chance of loot 
under cover of racial excitement animated the mean- 
est whites. Anyhow, a series of scuffles ensued 
round the Asiatic booths, the owners of which de- 
fended their property with all the stolid obstinacy 
which marks the race. In the overwrought state 
of public feeling, this was sufficient to start a 
general fray. Even decent, order-loving whites took 
part in it, and they and meek, peaceable Chinamen 
battled against one another like maniacs. Every- 
where goods were strewn, shrieking women and chil- 
dren were dragged down and trampled upon. The 
harassed police stopped the uproar by cutting off 
the electric light. Hundreds rushed to the exits, 
careless of prostrate bodies which they trod down. 
Suddenly, a fire broke out in the wooden shed. 
Somebody picking his way through the darkness 
and confusion may have dropped a lighted match 
on the heaps of inflammable stuff littered about. 
Many persons, men hurt in the fight, women and 
children, were still in the tottering ancient pile. 
A terrible panic followed. The flames leapt up and 
enveloped everything with lightning speed. Within 



FUROR AUSTRALIENSIS 117 

three minutes it had become impossible to save any 
one. The surrounding streets were choked with 
multitudes demented by horror. Through them 
the police, assisted by volunteers, now opened ap- 
proaches for the fire brigades. No further regard was 
paid to human life. Over quivering forms, which had 
been flung into the roadway by the jostling crowds, 
fire-engines thundered. For the conflagration, rag- 
ing next to the gasworks in a district of produce and 
dry goods stores, threatened the whole city with 
destruction. This was Sydney's delirious night of 
colour riots. 

How many were burnt and otherwise killed had 
never been officially stated. According to private 
computations, over two hundred perished. The 
fire was overcome in the early hours of Sunday 
morning. Quiet reigned all that day. No coloured 
seaman was allowed to leave ship. The alien in- 
habitants kept behind closed doors, and when they 
ventured forth again they were seldom exposed 
to anything worse than occasional horseplay. 
Sydney had had enough of the ruling passion. 

The centre of the disturbance swiftly shifted to 
Melbourne. Some disgraceful scenes occurred there, 
too, on Saturday night in the pleasure part of 
Bourke Street. However, the police managed to 
suppress outrage in that quarter. But the ball 
had been set rolhng. The pushes, alert to perceive 
the advantage vouchsafed to them by the moral lapse 
of the community, organized little private raids 
on unprotected Chinese shops in the suburbs. 
Windows were smashed, goods robbed, and occasion- 
ally, in a well-timed rush, the till-money was car- 
ried triumphantly. Bad as this was, when Sunday 
morning dawned, Melbourne was yet free of murder. 
The papers, breaking the local laws against Sunday 
publications, issued extras detailing the Sydney 



ii8 THE FEET OF CLAY 

happenings exaggerated beyond their hideous 
reahty. All town discussed them, and in the evening 
suspicious gangs appeared in the crowded streets. As 
the ahens had been warned and did not show them- 
selves in public, the police relaxed their vigilance 
somewhat, ^especially as no excesses were reported 
during the most lively hours. About 9 o'clock 
noise arose in the Chinese quarter. It appears that 
a band of larrikins had invaded Little Bourke 
Street. At that late hour, the Mongolians had most 
likely grown less anxious, reassured by the previous 
unbroken tranquillity. Some youths, at any rate, 
managed to close with the yellow-skins who, con- 
scious of their numbers, struck a defiant attitude. 
All at once a piercing cry was heard. A young 
Australian had been stabbed ; he staggered along 
the street, only to collapse in the gutter. Within 
an incredibly short time, hundreds of rough whites 
filled the back street, athirst for revenge. Many 
of them carried weapons. The Chinese retreated 
behind walls, but it was too late. While the ad- 
vance of the police was blocked under showers of 
stones, doors were beaten in, windows forced open, 
and in dens, courtyards and alleys a mortal combat 
raged. Half an hour elapsed before the constabu- 
lary, with full reinforcements from the central bar- 
racks near by, could restore a semblance of order. 
Several policemen were killed and wounded ; the 
civilian losses on both sides were considerable. It 
was rumoured that some ruffians, caught red-handed 
as they were setting fire to a place, were despatched 
on the spot. On Monday morning Melbourne had 
resumed its usual busy way. As in Port Jackson, no 
coloured seamen were allowed to land. And the 
Asiatic inhabitants were too scared to give further 
challenge by parading in the open. 
The example set by the two sea-capitals was emu- 



FUROR AUSTRALIENSIS 119 

lated all over the interior of the Continent wherever 
the hated ahens dwelt. A long list of deeds of vio- 
lence against a helpless minority stains the fair 
record of Australia here. Everywhere the same 
features were repeated. Ingrained contempt 
changed into sullen suspicion ; some imprudence or 
impudence committed by a yellow man followed by 
a white blaze of indignation quenched only by the 
trickhng of the red blood of the maimed offender or 
his unfortunate kinsfolk. A number of the wildest 
outrages has never become known outside a restricted 
local circle. They are of interest only to the stu- 
dent of national waves of dementia. 

In the big ports the resentment against the 
coloured aliens smouldered on, although its 
expression did not again become so sanguinary. 
The struggle became now economic. 

On Wednesday, July 17, 1912, an edict was is- 
sued by the Trades Halls of Sydney and Melbourne 
forbidding to the affiliated maritime unions any work 
in connexion with any vessels carrying coloured 
crews. Every Australian port, large or small, fell 
into line loyally as soon as the telegraph had trans- 
mitted the message. With twenty-four hours, it 
had become impossible along the whole coast of the 
Commonwealth to coal, load or discharge, or even 
to victual ships coming under the prohibition. The 
employers of the sea-capitals very naturally tried 
to break down the boycott. But they found few 
willing hands to aid them. A handful of unfortunates 
recruited by King Hunger — for that potentate too 
was on the point of invading the Continent where his 
very name had been unknown so long — were over- 
awed by the populace and had to be withdrawn, 
since even the police would not guarantee their 
safety. The imagination of the whole nation was 
fascinated by the boldness of the boycott. Though 



120 THE FEET OF CLAY 

the White Australia doctrine was threatened at the 
heart, the Extremists, undaunted, declared that 
the Ocean should be white as well. It was not a 
new policy, as it had been a pet ideal of advanced 
patriots of years, and had been officially advocated 
by the Commonwealth delegates at the last Im- 
perial Navigation Conference. But its reasser- 
tion in the present crisis was a stroke of daring 
worthy of the stern Romans of old who carried war 
into Africa while unconquered Hannibal still 
menaced their gates. Alas, the times and circum- 
stances were very different now ! 

Nevertheless, at first, results were not of a kind 
to make the Extremists repent of their thorough- 
ness. The suffering on account of the partial stop- 
page of oversea circulation was counteracted to some 
extent by a sensational decline in the price of 
the necessaries of life. Monopolistic rings, which 
had kept high the local values while shipping cheaply 
for competition in the world's markets, collapsed 
when the shrinking of export facilities overwhelmed 
the outlets with supplies of perishable goods. 

While the maritime boycott was in full swing, 
news arrived from Queensland of further excesses 
eclipsing in cruelty the southern riots. In the 
latter, the white riff-raff had borne the largest share. 
It was quite different in the North, while on the con- 
trary decent, influential white men were the ring- 
leaders. In tropical Queensland, Japanese used 
to run many of the bad houses, to which coloured 
womenfolk resorted. Unfortunately, the matter 
did not rest there. They insisted on running them 
on such peculiar lines of their own that it had 
often been prophesied that one day the whole thing 
would be washed off in blood. After the invasion, 
the hatred of these Pandars was augumented by 
the fear that every one of them might be a spy. 



FUROR AUSTRALIENSIS I21 

Their opportunities in that direction were certainly 
considerable by reason of their trade. The disgust 
which had accumulated against them had become 
at least equal to the ferocity which burned negroes 
at the stake on the other side of the Pacific. 

Upon this poisonous ground Western Americans, 
with all their traditions of race violence, set foot in 
quest of the White Guard. It is not probable that 
their influence was employed in the interests of 
law and order. Soon after their advent, in poured 
the reports of how the South had dealt with the 
Asiatics. What followed has never been cleared 
up fully. It seems that a secret league was formed 
among the best white elements and rapidly ex- 
tended to all the picturesque townships scattered 
along the blue Pacific and round to the Gulf of Car- 
pentaria. One evening, nearly a fortnight after the 
capitals had given the signal, an end was made with 
one accord right over North Queensland (July 27). 
The brothels were entered, all inmates seized. Of 
the subsequent proceedings no official version exists. 
Close private inquiry on the spot would be unsafe, for 
too many influential persons are still alive who were 
deeply implicated in the conspiracy. Apparently 
the culprits were not only exterminated, but ex- 
terminated in the most degrading fashion. I.-., In towns 
where only a few were taken, they were burnt at the 
stake. Where the numbers were larger, they were 
hanged and made targets of. So far it is hardly 
possible to pity the victims much. But there is 
one blot. The coloured trade goods disappeared 
for ever. These unfortunates, brought up to a life 
of infamy, perhaps sold into it by fond parents, 
were irresponsible. Some say that they were shot 
and buried quietly ; others, that they were drowned. 
As a fitting termination, the Asiatics who plied less 
contemptible callings received warning that their 



122 . . THE FEET OF CLAY 

safety could be guaranteed only until after the 
departure of the next few steamers bound north. 

The first news of anti-colour riots was served up 
to the British public as Sunday reading. Several 
up-to-date preachers referred to it in their sermons, 
likening the misguided Antipodeans unto Assyrian 
wolves. On Monday the London Stock Exchange 
marked its disapproval in a more practical manner 
by depressing Australian State funds several points 
more. And they fell still lower when the meaning of 
the boycott was realized. There never was a worse 
dislocation of trade. The leading shipping com- 
panies met boycott with boycott by holding back 
steamers due for the journey out or by diverting 
them to other parts of the world, and by cabling 
orders for the vessels in Commonwealth waters 
either to leave undischarged or to be laid up where 
the}^ happened to be at the time. The stoppage 
sent up the prices for meat, butter and fruit in the 
markets of the United Kingdom. Moreover, the 
woollen industry began to suffer under the uncer- 
tainty of the outlook in the chief wool-producing 
country at a period when the early shearing should 
have started. 

But the material losses were of small account 
compared to the damage inflicted upon the national 
pride. The greatest indignation was caused by 
the alertness of competitive foreigners to gather 
profits at the expense of British shipping supre- 
macy. Continental lines discovered a method to end 
the deadlock. As is well known they already main- 
tained regular services and had secured a large por- 
tion of the best paying Australian trade. Very 
quickly they rushed out a steamer-load of white sea- 
men sufficient to work their laid-up vessels inde- 
pendent of coloured labour. Other steamers 
manned exclusively by European crews followed in 



FUROR AUSTRALIENSIS 123 

quick succession, calling at English ports for cargo 
and thus giving a long start to the enterprising 
Continentals, who were placed incidentally in a 
position to dictate monopoly rates for return freight. 
At last the British companies had to adopt the same 
course. The counter boycott was broken. For 
the moment white labour had won the day. And 
the foreigners had established still more firmly 
their hold on Pacific trade. 

The disgust of classes and masses alike in the 
United Kingdom against the Commonwealth had 
had time to become deep-rooted when the first rumour 
of the Queensland atrocities — so called by the 
London Press — leaked out. Public opinion was 
emphatic in condemnation. The effect was electric 
and transformed the existing bitterness into a 
dead set against Australia which nothing could over- 
come. Should Britannia bare her righteous sword in 
defence of such brutal, bloody deeds ? The thing 
was not to be thought of. Several sensational 
journals demanded bombardment of the guilty ports 
and a blockade of the Commonwealth until all the 
perpetrators of the outrage should be punished, 
and until satisfaction should be given to the insulted 
nations. There can be no doubt that the series of 
violent outbreaks, and particularly this culmination, 
did immense harm to the Australian cause. Above 
all, weak-kneed adherents in the sister dependencies 
who were peering round anxiously for a chance to 
conciliate the financial over-lords, were supplied with 
a pretext to recant their former implicit applause 
under the plea of horrified humanity. From this 
period may be dated the ascendency of the Mode- 
rates in the other autonomous colonies. 

Japan and China renewed their protest in more 
pressing terms. Ominous accounts were bruited 
about of significant movements on the part of the 



124 THE FEET OF CLAY 

navy of the former Power. The Imperial Govern- 
ment promised a searching investigation and im- 
mediately lodged a claim with the Commonwealth 
for a substantial indemnity to be paid to the 
victims or their relatives. The Federal Executive 
replied that they were willing to consider favour- 
ably all reasonable demands on condition, how- 
ever, that the beneficiaries should agree to leave 
the Continent for ever. Moreover, they insisted 
upon the speedy removal of the prohibited immi- 
grants from the Northern Territory, on the ground 
that without such a safeguard they ^were unable 
to guarantee the non-recurrence of excesses. It 
was a clever piece of strategy, diverting the atten- 
tion from the past to the future by a counter-claim 
the perfect legality of which rather weakened the 
case for Asia as long as it was not complied with. The 
advisers of the Mikado did not relish the proposition. 



CHAPTER XII 

PEREAT ! 

(the flaming elections) 

DECKS clear for action ! What matter if a 
world outside cries horror over thee, Australia ? 
Better be Devil than King Log, croaked over by 
Frogs. The violent rearrangement of race-stan- 
dards, too, was merely an incident of clearing the 
decks, had become, in the fatal course of the stars, 
thy Necessity. Onward, Austraha, now face thy 
other Necessities. 

Only a month has gone by since Parliament 
wrangled about financial tricks. How ridiculous 
it looks to-day, this fierce debating of a loan and 
what should be done to make it attractive ! How 
very simple everything has become ! Loans ! The 
whole rich world has not a penny to spare for Aus- 
traha. Even a usurer would not lend to a dying 
man who has already pawned his valuables. If 
thou wilt money, get thee to thy own pocket. Let 
us count up the cost. Armaments by sea and 
land : they will swallow millions. Transcontinen- 
tal railways : tens of millions. Be humble, Aus- 
tralia, thou canst not do it ! 

It cannot be done ? This is election time. What 
throngs round the platforms ! What seas of 
heads and excitement ! What strange mutterings, 
stranger silences ! Listen ! Listen to the men to 
whom the people of Australia listen. They do not 



126 THE FEET OF CLAY 

talk of impossibilities. Are we not, value calcu- 
lated for heads, the wealthiest nation on earth ? 
Where are the limits of our rural production ? 
Our mines, but last year, yielded in gold alone 
sixteen million pounds sterling ! Who dares 
suggest that this treasure, torn from the bowels 
of our country by our hands, is not ours for the 
sacred purpose of defending our rights ? Private 
claims ? Fatherland before dividends ! Traitors 
and cowards are those who say otherwise. 

Traitors ! Yet another old-world word, the true 
meaning of which had never before been fathomed 
in Australia. Multitudes mutter it, half shyly at 
first, with [downcast eyes. (Already they steal 
furtive glances at each other. Whisperings rise into 
plain language. Traitors ! Are there any such 
among us ? That Hell-Hound, Political Suspicion, 
is unchained. Its bark shall be heard throughout 
the length and width of the Commonwealth ; its 
bite, too, shall kill without mercy. 

Look at the men who draw the largest crowds. 
Nearly all our polished orators are gone. Moderates 
and Extremists alike. They were far too prettily 
articulate to voice the tempestuous fury now 
coursing through the veins of the nation. Only a 
few who have overcome their Parliamentary expe- 
rience are still tolerated. Beside them other leaders, 
unknown to fame the day before yesterday, have 
risen into prominence ; persons quite ignorant of 
diplomatic methods of expression, yet possessed of 
something infinitely more impressive at the present 
moment. Note the gloomy fires of |^conviction 
smouldering in their feverish eyes ! They un- 
burden themselves, in endless procession, at every 
busy street corner in city and country town, 
at all times of day and night. Money ! Find 
money ! is their eternal refrain. Money to blaze a 



PEREAT! (THE FLAMING ELECTIONS) 127 

track to the invaded northern wilderness ! Money 
for armaments to strike at the enemy ! Millions 
of money. And at all times, day or night, listeners 
crowd round, eager to absorb, to discuss every new 
suggestion. It is a continual roar, accentuated by 
yells of defiance, broken into by groans of dissent, 
and reasserted triumphantly in thundering applause, 
as some appeal strikes home. What strange words 
the attentive ear catches above the din ! Forced 
loans ! Embargo on gold exports ! Absentee 
taxes ! Ah, the money must be found. Shout 
again, ye patriots ! Drown protests in applause ! 
Let universal hoarseness be the badge of patriotism ! 
Roar of storm, roar of sea, what are ye against the 
roar of a despairing people ! 

Tremble, therefore, ye Moderates ! All those who 
have to lose most. Call it not spoliation, class war, 
socialism. Not the bitter partisan would dare to 
think of faction shibboleths now. It is Necessity ! 
Life or Death of a White Continent ! Those pitiless 
new leaders do not stoop to inquire how a man 
voted in the past, or what are his general political 
principles. Even many a smiling Labour orator, 
happy in the knowledge of having whooped all his 
life for a White Australia in well-rounded periods, 
has been pulled up short by them with that icy 
question : What else did you do for the cause besides 
talking ? and has been ordered rudely to stand down. 
No Parliamentary procedure here. Down they 
did step, pale, noiseless, under storms of angry hoots 
and jeers, to political extinction. Where such things 
are happening daily, what chance for the faltering 
Moderate's excuse : The whole nation neglected 
its defence ! All are equally guilty ! All should 
suffer equally ! There should be no singling out 
by which some are made to lose more than others ! 
Ah, my friends ! A continent in convulsions is not a 



128 THE FEET OF CLAY 

Court in Equity. Those others will have their full 
share of suffering exacted from them. They will 
have to hunger, to die ; it is all they can give. But 
the fortunate some ones whose all includes the ability 
of material sacrifices will also have to give this 
all, as a privilege and honourable duty ; their 
lives, too, if necessary. What is the use of digging 
up old party differences, as if they did matter now ! 
Are you willing to lay down everything to save 
White Austraha ? Are you for or against the Sacred 
Will of the People ? That is the only test. 

Honour where honour is due ! Many prominent 
Moderates are doing their best without any invita- 
tion. Among them men who have always held 
strict views on the rights of property, and of whom 
unselfishness is least expected. They are spending 
their cash, they are mortgaging their possessions 
— God knows at what heavy loss, for the first weeks 
after the London panic are not the correct time 
for financial transactions. Some are equipping com- 
panies. Orders for four completely armed torpedo 
boats, payment for which is guaranteed by pri- 
vate deposits, are cabled to Europe. Alas, not 
everybody can be a hero. Every man of means 
has already suffered terribly, directly or indirectly. 
by the funds debacle or the maritime boycott. Wives 
and children have to be considered. Moreover, 
who can say that the Commonwealth will win ? 
If not, what then ? Good Moderates, we shall have 
beggared ourselves for nothing ! Let us bestir our- 
selves. Let us appeal to common sense. It may be 
dangerous, but desperate men must risk something. 
The call is not made in vain. Some courageous 
Moderates begin to talk back at the pitiless street 
leaders. Our battle cry ? Fihal obedience to 
England ! It is, after all, the grand old Mother 
Country. Even the Extremists cannot deny that 



PEREAT! (THE FLAMING ELECTIONS) 129 

without its help we cannot succeed. Our propoals ? 
Accept unreservedly.^the intervention of the Imperial 
authorities in the Northern Territory dispute 
on condition that the Japanese Government will 
undertake to stop all further immigration ! Un- 
happy Moderates, not far wrong ! — whom fear 
made drop, by accident, on a constructive idea. So 
much the worse for you, because j^ou are an hour 
too early. Blood, red blood of white men alone, 
can cool the delirious fury of Australia. Meanwhile 
the new suggestion comphcates the confusion. 
Numbers of the old generation, who were bom in 
Great Britain, listen. Their responsive chord has 
been struck — for the last time. Good patriots, these 
old folks, but not good enough for the present emer- 
gency. So their sons think — native Australians, 
who know little of past associations. Bark, Hell- 
Hound : Father suspect to son, son to father ! 
Families rent by deadly enmity ! Tears and curses. 
Some more poison. Will the cup never fill ? 

It is filling, steadily. It is brimming over. 
What hurrying, shouting, haranguing in the busy 
street ! A human torrent surges in front of a 
newspaper office. Of late the Press has obediently 
reflected the overwhelming national opinion. But 
now one important daily has come out in defence 
of the Moderate proposals. In support, it has 
published some severe condemnations of the Com- 
monwealth attitude from British contemporaries 
and has even dared to point the moral in a leading 
article which seemed to approve to some extent of 
those strictures. The crowd have set out to ask the 
meaning of this relapse ; they have arrived to give 
their answer. Down with traitors ! Constables, do 
not strike patriots ! Crash of breaking glass ; men, 
mounting on other men's shoulders, climb through 
the windows ; the police guard, attacked from rear 



130 THE FEET OF CLAY 

and front, is overwhelmed ; the torrent pours its 
hundreds into the building, whence the terrified staff 
have escaped by a back entrance. Smash ! Those 
linotypes will never print offensive views again. 
All the reinforced police can do is to dissuade the 
avengers from burning down the whole concern. 
Thus the People have corrected the Press. There 
will be no need to repeat the lesson. 

The mouthpiece silenced, it is the turn of the insti- 
gators. Triumphant procession along the main 
thoroughfares. Those quaint figures dragged in 
front and kicked at, spat upon by the populace, are 
the effigies of prominent Moderate spokesmen, 
which will be cremated publicly. Half the city 
leaves its work to witness the solemn function in 
the park. Bright are the flames, more fiery the 
oratory. What can the police do ? They are but 
men, patriots too. Still they have presence of 
mind to send urgent warning to the objects of 
national aversion. It was high time. Excited 
multitudes returning from the park gather before 
the ofiices of some leading offenders. Down with 
traitors ! has become, under the stimulus of mock 
executions, death to traitors ! Thanks to the 
foresight of the police, the terrible words do not yet 
become terrible deeds, for the intended victims 
are in hiding, where they will remain for many a 
day. Ridicule ruins their cause all over the country. 

Straightforward Moderation is dead. With their 
battle-cry : No surrender of the White Australia 
doctrine ! the Extremists will carry every elector- 
ate. It is madness to fight them on that issue. 
Instinctively, the remnant of Moderates tries a 
diversion by the introduction of minor questions 
into the election campaign. Rattle, rattle, old 
bones : Sectarians, Single-Taxers, State-Righters, 
to your guns ! Political extinction threatens all of 



PEREAT! (THE FLAMING ELECTIONS) 131 

you ! Fate offers you a rally ing-point. A session 
of the State Parliament of New South Wales has 
begun. All eyes of a continent are looking towards 
Sydney. 

New South Wales Parliament has been convened 
(July 16), for the purpose of assisting the Federal 
authorities in the organization of defence. Very 
laudable intention ! Why, then, are various hostile 
allusions to the growing pretensions of the Common- 
wealth tolerated ? Why do not Ministers state 
more definitely their conviction that everything, 
even constitutional points which might be inter- 
esting in peaceful times, has to be subordinated to 
the vital needs of the hour ? Could not a more 
suitable moment be found for the airing of the well- 
known grievances of the Mother State ? Defence 
is hardly mentioned. The Moderates, dominating 
the Government Party, are fighting tooth and nail 
for a diversion, in the forlorn hope of inflaming 
party passion. Who can blame them ? It is their 
last chance. Alas, the floodgates of Parliamentary 
talk are opened again ; who can shut them ? Not 
the Labour Opposition. It is very strong, and 
most patriotic. But it is not foolish enough to 
terminate this opportunity of exhibiting its patriot- 
ism in brilliant colours. So it only creates scenes 
in the House, which end in the exclusion of the 
majority of its members for three sittings. Finality 
seems as far off as ever. Sydney grown restless. 
Those pitiless street leaders, who have no time either 
for Moderate tricks or Labour tactics, become 
attentive. What ! shall the world think that 
Australia is disunited because a handful of profes- 
sional politicians cannot hold their tongues ? Much 
good have they done ! 

On Tuesday, July 23, the debate on the Address- 
in-Reply is to continue, after having swallowed 



132 THE FEET OF CLAY 

all last week. Suddenly it is interrupted by a 
hoarse roar outside. Honourable members pale 
visibly. Macquarie Street is a sea of heads, all 
turned in gloomy menace towards Parliament 
Buildings. The officiating Senior Constable whis- 
pers to the Speaker. The House begins to thin 
rapidly. Mr. Speaker, in a great hurry, adjourns it. 
Too late. Ghosts of all departed Parliamentarians ! 
Some thousand rude feet of unelected persons 
trample upon the sacred precincts. A few dare- 
devil members who strike the attitude of Roman 
Senators are hustled, flung out bodily. It is the end 
of the Mother State dignity. Ministers have fled 
for their .lives. Until nightfall, New South Wales 
is without a Government. Then, under cover of 
darkness, a semblance of order is restored. The 
Cabinet, as many of it as can be found, agree on 
the needful : indefinite prorogation of Parliament. 
Henceforth the Federal rulers may sleep quietly, 
if the utter collapse of State assertion can lull them 
in the present circumstances. The entire East, nerve 
centre and backbone of the Commonwealth, is solid. 
All the old fads, bugbears but four months ago, have 
dissolved in the furnace-heat of national excitement. 
And now commences — retribution ! The first 
days of August witness the growth of the movement 
known to history as the Baiting of the Moderates. 
Alas, unhappy Australia, how changed thou art 
in so short a time ! For a hundred years, thy men, 
whatever their political differences, have fought each 
other on terms of equality ; they have never yet 
forgotten that antagonists, though misguided or 
wilfully blind, were men and brothers ; they have 
listened before they struck ; they have reasoned ; 
above all, they have forgiven. But to-day ? 
Proudly be it said humanity dies hard in Aus- 
tralia even in this frightful crisis. Innumerable 



PEREAT! (THE FLAMING ELECTIONS) 133 

instances are still told how men generously 
risked their lives to save others whom they loved 
not, how political enemies of a lifetime rushed to 
rescue each other and, clasped in mutual silent 
embrace, disarmed for the moment the mob fury. 
What are such isolated rays of light upon the surging 
sea of national despair, clamorous of victims ! 
Ever since the race riots, it has been dangerous to 
express any opinion not concurrent with the popu- 
lar conviction. Now it becomes a crime even to 
say nothing. It seems so suspicious. If one is a 
good patriot, why not state the fact boldly ? Aye, 
and act up to it ? Suspicion is the great sickness of 
this people so bitterly disappointed in the Empire. 
After that experience, what is not possible ? What 
if by some mysterious means the Moderates should 
manage to control the New Parliament ? The idea 
is extravagant, ridiculous. Yet otherwise sane citi- 
zens discuss it under their breath, their brows 
clouded with grim determination. Rather any- 
thing, rather death ! Smash the Moderates' organi- 
zations ! Burst up their meetings ! Hunt down 
their partisans ! 

Nomination Day arrives (July 31). It seems to 
confirm the secret fears, for Moderate candidates 
stand for a good many electorates. Poor fellows, 
at any other period they would be sincerely pitied. 
Not among them are the traitors to be sought after 
who would destroy the Commonwealth. Every 
one would bear arms for his country. But patriot- 
ism, too, has its bounds. It is the courage of 
despair which animates them. Shall they all be 
beggared ? Shall their women and children starve ? 
They will, if those stem street leaders get their way. 
No, a thousand times no ! While the Moderates, 
who have to lose most, can help it, the Extremists 
shall not conquer, come what may. 



134 THE FEET OF CLAY 

The roar of the streets has become deafening. 
The Moderates have no chance there. They met 
by invitation, their electioneering takes the form 
of a vigorous house-to-house canvas of all possible 
supporters. The streets scent danger. Patriots 
meet and speak openly. Why this sneaking con- 
spiracy ? It must be stopped. But how ? There 
is only one means. And so the last, worst happens. 
The canvassers are tracked down, private houses 
entered, law and order completely set at naught. 
Riot and flame ! Death cries ! The Moderate 
cause extinguished by terror ! Yet with all its 
terror, wonderful is the oratory of the streets, which 
glorifies every deed of violence. Heartbeat of a 
maddened nation ! Not the desultory talk of former 
elections, when some party or persons tried their 
best to divert Australia from its vital interests for 
the sake of their own aggrandisement. Lifegiving 
talk, straight to the point ! Like panting of enor- 
mous machinery getting up steam ready to rush, to 
crush down, to create ! 

August 10 is Polling-Day. Such enthusiasm was 
never seen. Dying citizens totter to the booths 
to record their votes ; they know it is their last sacred 
duty upon this earth. All country roads are black 
with the multitudes of vehicles and passengers 
streaming to the polling-stations. Some districts 
poll nearly every registered vote, in none does the 
percentage fall below ninety. And now the returns 
roll in. Four Moderates have just squeezed into 
the Senate, six into the Representatives ; all the 
rest are Extremists. Many brilliant men of all 
the old parties find themselves left in the cold. 
Their places have been usurped by those pitiless 
street leaders. For once Australia has chosen a 
Parliament of Necessities, not of Ornaments. 

Triumph ! Triumph ! And a deep, sudden 



PEREAT! (THE FLAMING ELECTIONS) 135 

hush ! Do the people reahze what this victory has 
cost and that it is only a beginning ? Not a long 
respite is granted. Already a new tremor of 
excitement issues from Melbourne. The Federal 
Government is thrown into feverish activity. Again 
something has happened. Several elections have 
been prevented by riots in Western Australia. 

Western Australia ! Why, nobody has thought 
of it ! Accessible only by sea, hidden behind the 
turbulent waters of the Great Bight, it slipped from 
the popular mind during this convulsive period. 
There are less than 300,000 souls thinly fringing its 
coast or dotting its desert goldfields. Less than 
300,000 human beings in a million square miles, in 
complete isolation. They cannot be a great help, 
and the Commonwealth has more important matters 
to trouble about. The seaboard, it is said, does not 
cultivate Federal sympathies. Its numbers are not 
awe-inspiring. As long as the East is solid, nobody 
need worry about the West, which will follow the 
example of the former. Such are the notions of the 
average Eastern citizen. 

The Federal authorities have so far shared this 
point of view ; the more indignant are they now. 
Western AustraHa, of all places ! Did we not 
place entire confidence in it ? When after the 
conference in Melbourne of all our District Com- 
mandants prior to the mobilization we dismissed the 
others again did we not keep back here the Command- 
ant of the West because he was of more value for 
the pressing work at headquarters than for drilling 
the scarce recruits in his own department, who might 
be licked into shape just as well by local soldier 
men ? True, the Commandant himself, an officer 
of merit, by name and title Colonel Ireton, warned 
us that his absence might lead to complications. At 
any rate, we have now sent him back at last. He 



136 THE FEET OF CLAY 

is on the water this very moment. Wait till he has 
landed if he will not make things hum ! 

Things are humming already, it seems. Perth, too, 
has its streets, but they roar a tune very different 
from the East. The maritime boycott has made the 
loose connexions with the nerve-centres of the 
Commonwealth looser still. Listen, for a change, 
to the particular Western note. It started right in 
the Australian key. We, too, have raged and 
trembled about the invasion. Then came, at the most 
inopportune time, the financial debacle. We had 
just negotiated a huge loan, sufficient to counteract 
for some years our chronic deficits. Of course, all 
these sweet hopes have now come to nothing. 
Should we not be disappointed ? Are our politicians 
wrong in charging the failure against the Federal 
embroilment ? For we have solid grievances. We 
joined the union on the distinct understanding 
that the construction by the Commonwealth of a 
transcontinental railway across the deserts to 
South Australia would be taken in hand at once. 
Nine years have passed and only a survey has been 
sanctioned on the result of which, it is now said, 
the execution of the work will depend. Mean- 
while, South Australia, which has always done its 
worst to block our scheme, need not wait for its 
own transcontinental railway. Do they not talk 
of unheard-of sacrifices to be borne by the whole 
continent to make it possible ? Sacrifices ! No- 
thing else has ever been our share ! Under the 
rules of continental free trade, the more advanced 
East pours in manufactured goods and agricultural 
produce in cut-throat competition with our local 
articles. Are we ever to suffer thus and to get 
nothing in return ? 

There is in this world a sure retribution in store not 
only for every sin of commission, but for__also every 



PEREAT! (THE FLAMING ELECTIONS) 137 

sin of omission. Cut off by waterless wastes of 
land, by watery wastes of sea, the West has Httle 
in common with the main body of Australia. Such 
an isolated detachment must bear bitter fruits. 
Many public men of the State have been pro- 
nounced Anti-Federalists. Of late there has been 
a lull in the expression of their sentiments. But 
the financial failure revives the criticism. Mistrust 
follows in its wake. Is it to be pay, pay, pay, with- 
out end ? And for what purpose ? Can the Com- 
monwealth, which spurns the advice of Great 
Britain, win ? We, the State, have every reason to 
be friendly with England, our Mother ! At any 
rate, she cannot fail us. She may not wish to 
fight on account of the incursion of a few thousand 
Orientals upon the Northern Territory. But if ever 
Japan should descend upon the west coast, which 
commands the routes to India and South Africa, 
she cannot remain inactive. So what have we to 
fear ? Why should we ruin ourselves for the Com- 
monwealth, which laughs at the idea of straining 
its purse for our sake ? 

Thus the talk grows wilder. Of course, it is only 
talk. None of the glib critics has any clear idea 
of what is to be done. None of them is conscious 
that they are firing a train connected with a hid- 
den mine of latent rage the explosion of which will 
rain blood upon all Australia. But if men walk the 
brink of a precipice they should beware of giddiness. 
This continual play upon grievances may yet in- 
flame popular passions which the talkers never 
reckoned with. 

The election campaign is now at its height in the 
West. And here the Moderates, shouted down and 
hunted out in the East, get a hearing. The sea 
coast, in contrast to the interior, has always been 
Moderate. Its well-to-do middlemen have been struck 



138 THE FEET OF CLAY 

hard at their most vital point, their pockets, by the 
maritime boycott. The farmers, too, conservative 
and parochial as everywhere else, back them. They 
know that the goldfields. Federal to the back- 
bone, will return Extremists. All the more reason 
why the Coast should see to it that the other side 
is not quite silenced. But is it possible ? Labour- 
in-politics, with its White Australian platform, 
is strongly organized even here. In the last Parlia- 
ment, one of the seaside constituencies was re- 
presented by a Caucus man. Can he be ousted ? 
It shall be tried ! 

All the time, the telegraph is transmitting confused 
reports of the terrible struggle in the East. Still, 
they are quite sufficient to embitter the campaign 
of the coast. The Moderates, feeling themselves in 
strength, are fighting like demons ! They have hit 
on a happy name : the Great Westrahan Party ! So 
violent are their arguments, so strong their griev- 
ances, that many a good Labour man cannot quite 
shut his ears against them. Nevertheless, the 
toilers are too strictly disciplined as that they could 
be relied upon. They may humour the loudest 
talkers, but who knows how they will vote ? The 
nearer draws that fatal hour of decision, the more 
soul-racking grows the suspense of the Moderates. 
They cannot explain away the complete mastery 
of the Extremists everywhere else. Will they be 
extinguished here, too ? Their antagonists pursue 
the campaign steadily, without the wild fever of 
the East, yet without laxity. This calmness is 
aggravating. We Moderates are in force in this 
corner. Why not use it ? Why not do as we 
are done by all over the Continent ? Is not the 
Commonwealth devouring us ? Rouse party fury ! 
Burst up meetings ! Shout down the enemy ! 
Alas, it is not always that two can play at a 



PEREAT ! (THE FLAMING ELECTIONS) 139 

game. The Extremist gatherings are thickly at- 
tended, every attempt to break them up is stoutly 
resisted ; they hurl defiance with mocking cheers : 
" Federation for ever ! " And so it happens on 
the eve of Polling-Day that the surging crowds 
of State partisans, beaten back with hard blows 
in their last great effort and despairing of success, 
yell answer : " Down with the Commonwealth ! " 
The streets of Perth resound with the echoes of 
popular fury, which die away in the night, little 
heeded. 

Voting is brisk next day. The polling, proceeding 
orderly during the morning, soon leaves no doubt that 
the Extremists will retain Perth and may win 
Fremantle. These startling rumours are whispered 
round among excited mobs of State-Righters, 
whose temper is swiftly rising beyond control. 
And suddenly, the mine blows up. There is a wild 
rush upon a polling-booth in the threatened con- 
stituency. The officials are attacked, the ballot 
boxes seized and smashed, voting-papers and lists 
torn up and scattered. After that, nothing can 
hold back the rioters. Mobs, continually swelling 
in numbers, hurry to the next booth and repeat 
the work of destruction, among cries of : " What's 
the good of Federation ! " " We don't want the 
Commonwealth ! " " Down with the Federal black- 
guards ! " Fate flies swiftly. By five o'clock in 
the afternoon, nearly every polling-station within 
the three metropohtan divisions had been similarly 
ransacked. 

That is the news which agitates the Central 
Government and penetrates on stormy wings into 
the remotest recesses of the Commonwealth. What 
matter that Perth sobers down, that State authori- 
ties and local Press declare with one voice that the 
whole affair has been a mere street disturbance 



140 THE FEET OF CLAY 

caused by a spontaneous impulse due to disappoint- 
ment and fear, totally unpremeditated ? Quite right ; 
but what are facts against frenzy ? Do not argue, 
act ! One thing only is clear : Federation has 
been insulted, the elections are cancelled. Why 
are not the culprits brought to justice ? The 
whole solid East gasps but two words, which the 
Federal Executive duly telegraphs : immediate 
satisfaction : the Coast receives the imperious mes- 
sage indignantly. Why are we to prosecute every 
second citizen ? Men, too, who have done nothing 
worse than allowing themselves to be carried away 
by a mistaken outburst of State loyalty ? Let 
the East mind its own business. How is it that 
their own jails are not overflowing ? Such violence 
as they indulged in we never thought of ! The State 
hesitates ; its Parliament is being convened ; that 
may decide how amends are to be made. Delay 
therefore. And the Commonwealth has time to 
reflect. What kind of reflection ! The new mem- 
bers, those pitiless street leaders, look to it that the 
insult is never forgotten. Western Australia ! 
Is it not there that public men dared to boast, 
among great applause, that they were willing to 
draw swords to sever the bonds of Federation ? 
At that time, the Commonwealth, being then in 
its right senses, smiled and went about its work. 
Now, in its mad hour of disaster, the Commonwealth 
remembers ! What if they meant it ? So this 
insult, and all that led up to it, was merely acciden- 
tal ? Listen to the reawakening roar of the East ! 
Is not Western Austraha our biggest gold producer ? 
Do we not propose an embargo on gold exports ? 
Is there nobody who might be interested to thwart 
us ? Questions like these, once asked, shape their 
own answer in such a crisis. Ah, it is conspiracy ! 
An attempt to rend to pieces our indivisible contin- 



PEREAT! (THE FLAMING ELECTIONS) 141 

ent ! Bark, Hell-Hound of Suspicion ! Gnash thy 
teeth ! Out of thy hundred throats spit black 
poison ! WestraHa, a human hfe is staked on every 
minute of delay ! Quick, for God's sake and thy 
own ! Strike down the offenders with iron hand ! 
Or thyself shall thus be struck down. 

The Flaming Elections may be said to have ter- 
minated the first great epoch of Australian history. 
So far the young community has developed largely 
on the lines of older civilized white nations, shel- 
tered for all purposes, as it fancied, beneath the 
world-sweeping draperies of the British Empire. 
That illusion has now been shattered. Upon the 
outer gates of the Commonwealth; a relentless 
enemy hammers, with whom there exists no possi- 
bility of mutual understanding and conciliation. 
Within, those who have to lose most and whose 
most sacred duty it should have been, for this 
reason, to organize the defence, are victimized of 
necessity. The accompanying convulsions are para- 
lyzing the national vigour. Still worse, one of the 
links binding the component parts of the Continent 
is on the point of snapping under the strain of mis- 
understanding, jealousy, suspicion, and the spectre 
of fratricide rises against a background of inextric- 
able confusion. To crown all, public credit, the 
life-blood of modern defence, has been cut off without 
mercy at the critical moment. All the bonds of 
nationhood, in the accepted sense of the term, seem 
to break together. 



PART II 

The Romance of the White Guard 

CHAPTER I 

THE MARCH OVER A THOUSAND MILES 

THE deliverance of the Commonwealth depended 
entirely on material force. But a century of 
peaceful development based on legislation had 
modified profoundly the character of the people. 
There existed, particularly in the more settled parts 
where politics had been raised to the level of a fine 
art, an almost superstitious belief in the power of 
law. Though it may sound strange, it is a fact 
nevertheless that the ordinary citizen was firmly 
convinced that restrictive enactments, duly sanc- 
tioned by Parliament, formed an unsurmountable 
bar against coloured invasion. This respect before 
the law is certainly the best proof of the high stan- 
dard of civilization to which the Australians had 
risen. Unfortunately, though well aware that the 
crowded millions of Asia were impelled by instinct 
or necessity without regard for codified reason, 
they had neglected to draw the correct conclusions 
from their knowledge. Only very slowly did they 
recognize that force, brutal force, alone could save 
them. The unquestioning confidence in the effi- 
ciency of moral pressure can be traced right through 
the first period after the invasion, up to the refusal 

143 



144 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

of Royal Assent to the Coloured Inhabitants' Regis- 
tration Act. Then came a period of doubt and 
anxiety, followed at last by the violent reaction of 
repentant disillusion as expressed in the anti-colour 
riots. 

Far removed from the law-bewitched nerve- 
centres of population, there lived a more aggressive 
type of Australian. Away out in the backblocks 
in the borderland of savagery, the skin-hunters, 
drovers, station-hands, prospectors and other ad- 
venturous vagrants heard the rumours of the inva- 
sion which spread like wild-fire to the loneliest camps. 
Many set out for the coast, eager for closer informa- 
tion which promised stronger excitement. Nothing 
more seems to have come of this spontaneous move- 
ment in the southern parts. But in North Queens- 
land, the near neighbour of the invaded territory, it 
led to important developments. As the travellers 
met, they began, of course, to discuss the news : 
reaching the more settled districts, they exchanged 
ideas of revenge and retribution with kindred spirits. 
And in this casual manner was evolved the bold 
project of a raid against the Japanese. It was a 
tremendous enterprise, considering the distance and 
hardships which had to be overcome. But the 
daring bushmen made httle of natural obstacles in 
those feverish days. Everybody was acquainted 
intimately with the terrors of the wilderness and 
had braved them often before. Everybody could 
ride and thought nothing of sitting a horse day 
after day, week after week. Everybody bore in 
his heart undying hatred against an enemy who 
contested the white supremacy and who was doubly 
loathed because of his inferiority of race, environ- 
ment and ideals. Probably it will never be known 
to whom honour is due for having originated the 
patriotic conception. Before it matured and was 



MARCH OVER A THOUSAND MILES 145 

put into execution it was possibly influenced by 
outside suggestions. 

At any rate, it was not long before the project 
met with official encouragement. The State of 
Queensland, with Federal sanction, proclaimed the 
formation of an irregular defence corps, ostensibly 
for the purpose of guarding the western frontier 
which travels for its whole length with that of the 
Northern Territory. For the Commonwealth Gov- 
ernment, who controlled, under the terms of the 
constitution, the regular army, preferred to have 
nothing to do officially with a volunteer force. In 
this way a greater freedom of movement was ensured 
to the latter and immediate Federal responsibihty 
for its actions was evaded. Secretly, however, 
they furnished arms and advanced money. But 
though the local and central authorities worked 
hand in hand at first, their interests soon began to 
clash. Queensland, of course, wished to launch 
its best manhood against the enemy in a supreme 
effort. On the other hand, the officers of the regular 
army claimed all the able-bodied men included in 
Class I of the militia for service. Their demands 
were upheld by the Federal Executive, which, per- 
ceiving the first ominous signs of civic disruption, 
desired to increase the power of the Commonwealth 
against separatist tendencies of which the Northern 
State was suspected at this early time. The only 
means to defeat the insatiable zeal of the regular 
officers consisted in rushing the liable men out of 
their reach, and the local organizers were not slow 
to act accordingly, with the result that the prepara- 
tions were hurried very much. Still, a great deal of 
energy and thoroughness was devoted to the cause. 
Rifles, ammunition, horses and stores were despatched 
to Bourketown, which became the centre of the 
enterprise. Several able and strenuous patriots 

A,C. K 



146 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

proceeded by sea to Port Darwin, where they founded 
a secret league of active sympathizers and arranged 
a system of support. This place, being the solitary 
white stronghold near the scene of operations, 
was, indeed, the only base from which some help 
might be rendered once the campaign had begun 
properly. At the outset, it was planned to trans- 
port the raiders by steamer across the Gulf of Car- 
pentaria and to land them within easy striking 
distance of the enemy. But the idea was aban- 
doned owing to the fear of Japanese cruisers, which 
were supposed to hover round the coast. 

Tokio received probably early information of 
the new danger menacing the Japanese settlement. 
There is the fact that Downing Street made in- 
quiries — which it would hardly have done without 
prompting — in Melbourne and afterwards in Bris- 
bane with regard to the object of the irregular 
armament. The artful reply was to the effect that 
it was merely intended to protect the stations and 
the stock route within the possible zone of the 
activity of the immigrants, in short, to safeguard 
the recognized property of white people in those 
parts. As it was not hkely, however, that the Im- 
perial authorities and the pushful ally behind them 
would accept such an explanation as final, the 
organizers decided to baffle any further restrictive 
attempts by coming to the point at once. Without 
waiting for reinforcements, the first company of 
the irregular corps entered upon its famous ride 
over a thousand miles of desert and jungle against 
an enemy whose numbers and resources were abso- 
lutely unknown. 

A finer body of men never took the field to do 
battle for Aryan ideals. It was composed of the 
sturdy sons of the Austrahan bush set off by just a 
dash of a more refined cosmopohtan element made 



MARCH OVER A THOUSAND MILES 147 

up of a few Americans, Canadians and Australian 
city bred. All the members were in the prime of 
manhood and health. None were frightened by 
the prospects of hardships and isolation. The 
latter was indeed necessary to the success of their 
sombre mission, the import of which they realized 
instinctively, though perhaps nobody cared as yet 
to define it in plain words. But they felt that no- 
thing less was expected of them than the exter- 
mination of the invaders. That was, after all was 
said, the only way to punish and to end the intru- 
sion of the ahen race on Commonwealth soil. Mercy 
had not — could not have — a place in this tremendous 
enterprise born of mortal hatred and big with the 
certainty of terrible privations. Neither would 
mercy be pleaded for. Away in the silent wilder- 
ness, in the fight against a determined foe who had 
had leisure to acquire a good deal of bush-knowledge 
and whose martial qualities were above suspicion, 
there would be no room for sentiment. The gallant 
volunteers were convinced from the beginning that 
victory alone could save them from the only other 
alternative — death. But they did not worry much 
about fears of failure. In the midst of the unbroken 
solitudes, their thoughts were fully occupied with 
preparations for the task before them. 

Tokio, again, seems to have been informed almost 
immediately of the departure of the first company. 
At any rate, it addressed another appeal to London 
reiterating the willingness of its former subjects 
to become British citizens, and adding a warning 
that the advisers of the Mikado could not accept 
responsibility for the tranquillity of the nation, if 
harmless settlers of their own race should be treated 
with violence. The Imperial Government commu- 
nicated this intimation to the Federal Executive 
and demanded guarantees that the peace would 



148 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

not be broken. Melbourne retorted that it had 
nothing to do with the irregular force, which was 
regarded as a special State constabulary, and that 
it must disclaim all liabiUty for the actions of the 
latter. This was the last official reference to the 
volunteers : soon afterwards, international anxiety 
was monopolized by the anti-colour riots in the 
south. But probably there was some connexion 
between the evasiveness of the Commonwealth 
attitude and the closure by Great Britain of the 
Northern Territory coast. 

It seems that the Japanese had not reckoned with 
the volunteer movement in spite of their character- 
istic thoroughness. There are many good reasons, 
however, which would account for the oversight. In 
the first place, the project to carry war into the 
settlement across an unknown wilderness, barren of 
any resources upon which the aggressors might fall 
back, was so audacious, even quixotic, that the 
methodical Japanese mind may well have refused 
to consider it seriously. Moreover, though the 
emissaries of the Mikado had no doubt studied the 
Commonwealth with a perspicacity similar to that 
displayed elsewhere in the past, they had naturally 
turned their attention to the centres of population 
and national power. Japanese squadrons visited 
the big ports frequently, almost regularly. Tourists 
had travelled over the pleasure resorts, merchants 
had looked over the country in all directions in 
ostensible pursuit of business, and a more intensive 
research had been carried on by pseudo-Chinese or 
frankly Japanese domestics, artisans and gardeners, 
by Asiatic delegates of Christian religious sects, and 
in every other practicable way. But all these moved, 
or drifted, into the more settled parts or at least into 
the households of the great landholders. And they 
found there all the symptoms of indolent culture, 



MARCH OVER A THOUSAND MILES 149 

love of play, indulgence in luxuries and careless 
national pride, which seemed so real though they 
were, after all, merely the result of imitation, by a 
section of the young community, of the economic 
excrescences of old Europe. The Japanese agents 
may have reported all they saw. But apparently 
they did not penetrate under the surface and over- 
looked the typical Australians : the hardy pioneers 
who wrestled with and conquered hostile nature in 
the arid heart of the Continent, the selectors, stock- 
men, miners, drovers, carriers and other bushworkers 
who loved an uncrowded life on the borderline of 
civilization. And such spies as gave them a passing 
glance may have been deceived by the peculiarities 
of the men of the vast interior. For the solitude, 
monotony and sadness of the bush breed, as a natural 
protection against its oppressive influence, a pic- 
turesque emphasis and descriptive exaggeration of 
the language of its dwellers, which conveys to the 
superficial observer an impression of irresponsi- 
bility on their part. This is especially the case if 
the language takes the form of boastful carelessness 
or disdainful blasphemy, which serves — and often 
is meant to serve — as a cloak for the true senti- 
ments — pride of battle and triumph in the face 
of disheartening difficulties ; fierce devotion to 
the boundless sweep of virgin country which every 
bushman regards as the priceless inheritance of his 
race ; and an unconquerable love of freedom as 
the pre-requisite of hfe. The rough outside had 
hidden these sterling qualities from the prying eyes 
of the Asiatics, and the threatening concentration 
of the bushmen came as a surprise to Tokio. 

The first company of volunteers left Bourketown 
on a Sunday, June 16, 1912, after divine service, 
and was escorted to the boundary of the township 
by an immense concourse of people. The bells 



150 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

of all the little churches and chapels rang, volley 
after volley was fired, and cheer on cheer went up. 
It was an outburst of wild enthusiam and patriotic 
rejoicings. They called themselves the " White 
Guard," a name as appropriate as it was happy 
and inspiring. The White Guard departed 615 
members strong, all well armed and mounted. 
There were 200 reserve horses, most of them 
carrying stores. The advance was rapid in the first 
stages. They rode into Woolagarang, 140 miles 
away on the Northern Territory border, on the 
third day after sunset. Progress became more diffi- 
cult now, for they had to pass through almost un- 
known country to reach the McArthur River. But 
they pushed on without delay and arrived on June 
24 at Booraloola, where they crossed the stream. 
So far their route had skirted the jungle for the 
most part and the enervating charm of this Lotos- 
land had tired the men. Though its tortuous form- 
ation, full of fantastic vegetation and animal life, 
offered so much variety, it seemed always the same 
kind of change, lulling to rest and forgetfulness. 
Above all, the slow silvery trickle of water like 
mocking voices of wood sprites beneath the impene- 
trable, luxuriant undergrowth, imparted to the 
parched-out, sun-baked riders a tantalizing yearn- 
ing after dreamful ease. True, there were dangers 
everywhere. The jungle was alive with ghding, 
running, jumping, gloom-loving things. Snakes, 
centipedes and large spiders abounded. Some 
men had been bitten ; they had been driven mad for 
the time being either by excruciating pain or by the 
horror of the thing ; two had died. Mosquitoes and 
ants swarmed in places, and though every measure 
of protection was taken, some would find an oppor- 
tunity for inflicting their tortures. But the memory 
of hardships on the march faded away in the strange 



MARCH OVER A THOUSAND MILES 151 

drowsiness borne on the cool night-air. When on 
an open patch high up the creek bank the camp 
fires had been ht and evening had turned the sky 
of burning blue into ethereal green and gold, a for- 
lorn enchantment began to weave its meshes round 
the weary adventurers. Dark shadows indicated 
the tangled undergrowth below. The tops of the 
higher trees rose over them like a grey mist rolling 
upwards. Much more distinct in the clear atmo- 
sphere above these swam the proud fronds of palms, 
the slender stems of which could be rather imagined 
than perceived. The sky paled rapidly, pierced by 
the leisurely steadying flicker of stars like pleasing 
fancies slowly embodying themselves into clear 
thought. A noisy chorus of parrots and other birds 
filled the woods. Bats began to circle. Some 
kangaroos might bound across the line of sight, or 
the patter of a troop of emus would be heard. Long 
after dark, sleepless listeners could often distinguish, 
above the many rustlings, whisperings and crack- 
lings of night life in the tropical jungle, the heavy 
wing-flappings of geese as they flew on in ghostly 
files changing from pool to pool. Early in the morn- 
ing the air was sparkhng fresh and the green looked 
many degrees brighter in the first slanting rays of 
the sun. The sombre undergrowth dissolved into 
quaintly shaped, delicately leaved shrubs bearing 
gorgeous blooms or luscious berries or into dainty 
tree-ferns and dwarf-palms. Graceful garlands of 
creepers linked majestic trees, and even above their 
mighty crowns the palms reared their heads in 
effortless supremacy. Setting, colour scheme and 
scale of vegetation seemed to be conceived always 
in the superlative. Human energies could not 
resist for long the voluptuous invitation to forget 
that there was such a thing as purpose in life. The 
jungle breeds slavery. It will have to go if the 



152 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

white race wants to people the Northern Territory. 
After the crossing of the McArthur River the 
real hardships of the enterprise commenced. The 
White Guard had determined to attempt a short 
cut across the interior to Katherine, a mining 
camp situated about sixty miles south of Pine Creek, 
the terminus of the railway from Port Darwin. 
Four hundred miles stretched before them, never 
yet traversed by white men. Nevertheless, general 
relief was felt when the jungle was exchanged for 
the dry plains. The members were by no means 
too well under control, and there had been signs of 
impending demoralization. But this would have to 
give way now to strict discipline, for the only chance 
of overcoming the dangers of the desert ride lay 
in mutual loyalty and prompt obedience to the 
leaders. The contrast between the creek country 
and the interior plains is unsurpassed in the world. 
The blazing sun cracks the grassy surface. No 
shadow offers anywhere ; the patches of sparingly 
foliaged gum trees afford none, neither do they give 
any shelter against the clouds of fine dust sweeping 
along before the steady breeze. The outlook is 
bounded only by the horizon, apart from an occa- 
sional sandstone ridge, often intersected by quartz 
bands of blinding whiteness, and rising above the 
level like a petrified wave of desolation. From its 
summit the eye roams over dismal views of weird 
melancholy. The rugged patches of forest below 
consist of trees huddled together so closely that 
their tops of dull, drab, contracted leaves, thus seen 
from above, give them the appearance of thick 
scrub. And the belts of real scrub are frequent too, 
which can be traced for long distances by the lines 
of glistening sand-hills driven up by the wind against 
the living barrier of invincible growth. All over the 
plains depressions occur suggesting creek beds, in 



MARCH OVER A THOUSAND MILES 153 

which, however, no water can have run for ages, for 
ancient gum trees grow in them, besides acacias 
and shrubs. But it is at the bottom of such de- 
pressions that water is found, sometimes in a deep 
hole difficult of access, sometimes in a pond or in a 
chain of ponds, surrounded by swamp gums. Un- 
fortunately, these abound also in many low-lying 
spots without surface water, and their deceitful 
presence adds thus to the tortures of the thirsty. 

Still, the White Guard managed to push forward. 
Often the endurance of the horses had to be taxed to 
the utmost on the long stages intervening between 
waterholes. The men had to fall back largely on 
the provisions which they were carrying. For fresh 
meat they depended on rock wallabies, and now and 
then on a kangaroo. Plump pigeons furnished a 
welcome variety of diet. These were the only birds 
thriving on the plains, with the exception of uneat- 
able kites living on grasshoppers. Mere good in- 
tentions were not sufficient to sustain the men on 
this march of privation. The weaklings of the force 
did not survive the test. Some died outright from 
exhaustion ; others, maddened by the exertions, by 
heat and thirst, stole away into the desert to perish. 
And others again committed suicide by bullet or 
blade. Their comrades had no time to mourn them. 
On they rode, and the dust soon blew over their 
tracks and obliterated all traces of the heroic venture. 
And the dingoes, the haunting, sad howls of which 
resound over the plains in still nights, cleared away 
the remains of the fallen. All the men were unani- 
mous on two points : that there was no possibility 
of retreat by the road they had come, if they should 
be beaten or weakened, and that it was not probable 
that many reinforcements would reach them by the 
same route. The White Guard emerged at last 
from the Unknown at All Saint's Well, on the over- 



154 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

land telegraph lines. Three days later (July ii) it 
camped eighteen miles north-east of Katherine, on 
a pond in the bed of the river of that name. It 
had lost eighteen men and over sixty horses during 
the passage across the interior. 

When the White Guard left Bourketown, the 
bonds of disciphne were very loose. A leader had 
been chosen, by name McPartoch. He was a robust 
Scot, member of the League of Frontiersmen, and 
had seen much lighting in the British Colonies 
before he settled down to a small cattle run near 
the Gregory River. From the outset of the panic, 
he had thrown himself with enthusiasm into the 
movement for resistance by force, and the rapid 
formation of the first corps was due partly to his 
endeavours. His experience, patriotism, straight- 
forwardness and Scotch common sense marked him 
for its command. But his appointment was the 
only approach to a military system, and the White 
Guard had to evolve its organization on the march. 

There was much in this method to recommend it. 
The aspirants to leadership underwent the most 
rigorous practical test imaginable . They had to prove 
not only their circumspection and resourcefulness, 
but also that they had the gift of handling men. So, 
after a week's march, a mere handful of serious 
candidates remained. As befitted such a demo- 
cratic set of volunteers their foremen were finally 
selected by the equal vote of all. McPartoch re- 
frained carefully from showing favour for any one 
— a well-considered impartiality which increased 
his influence and popularity immensely. But on 
his suggestion it was decided to fix the number of 
sub-leaders at six, which left each one in command 
of about a hundred men, and to confer upon them 
the title of lieutenant. Every member of the corps 
pledged himself beforehand to strict obedience. 
The men who were chosen to the responsible posts 



MARCH OVER A THOUSAND MILES 155 

proved themselves worthy of the confidence be- 
stowed on them by their comrades by their 
behaviour in the subsequent campaign. Among them 
them was Thomas Burt, who, after the trial of the 
Japanese delegates at Port Darwin, had proceeded 
by sea to North Queensland and had interested him- 
self at once in the volunteer movement. His ac- 
curately kept diary is the only reliable source of in- 
formation about the evolution, the march and the 
first campaign of the White Guard. (His friend, 
the Yorkshireman, had had enough of colonial ex- 
perience and had just escaped compulsory enlist- 
ment by taking first steamer from Port Darwin to 
Hong Kong.) Of the other five lieutenants two were 
Queenslanders ; New South Wales, Tasmania and 
Canada supplied one each. 

In the apportionment of duties which followed 
the appointments, Thomas Burt was entrusted 
with the commissariat. This service was without 
doubt the most difficult to render satisfactorily. 
For it had been agreed upon on all sides that the 
stores should be kept in reserve for emergencies. 
Meanwhile the White Guard depended chiefly on 
the results of the hunt for sustenance. As long 
as it marched through the jungle game was plentiful. 
Nevertheless, in the beginning the best part of a 
day was wasted several times to procure a sufficiency. 
It was evident that a better system would have to 
be organized and with this end in view the com- 
missariat was created ; 120 men were placed under 
Thomas Burt's command. All the surplus horses 
and stores were entrusted to their care. And the 
best bushmen, to the number of fifty, were formed 
into a sub-company of hunters. They travelled in 
advance until they reached a spot where good sport 
might be expected. Then they fell to work, until 
often the sombre forest and jungle re-echoed the 



156 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

shots as if a great battle was already in progress. 
The spoil was piled up to be bagged by the comrades, 
while the marksmen would ride on to the next 
promising hunting-ground. 

Later this arduous task was simplified with the 
help of natives. Some genuine tribes still roamed 
at that time the vast interior, shy of either white 
or yellow men, and thus free of the depravity of 
the coastal blacks. They lived entirely by the chase, 
and in periods of starvation were supposed to resort 
to cannibalism. Withal, they were not considered 
treacherous, and not so lazy and abandoned as those 
aboriginals who have mixed with higher races, but 
rather gay, healthy and active. McPartoch was 
diplomatic enough to overcome their initial sus- 
picions that the whites intended to drive them out. 
Once confidence was established by just treatment 
and presents of tobacco and small silver coins, the 
volunteers reaped many benefits. The natives 
possessed an intimate knowledge of the plains and 
were most valuable guides to the waterholes. More- 
over, they could indicate the richest haunts of game 
and were skilful to secure it with less noise than a 
shotgun made, a method which would be of enormous 
advantage as soon as the White Guard should be in 
touch with the enemy, to whom random shots might 
betray its whereabouts. McPartoch, therefore, de- 
termined to enlist a number of the blacks. Their 
services were bought readily by little gifts. Great, 
however, were the lamentations of their chiefs who 
protested against the desertion of their choicest 
warriors ; they had to be propitiated, too, for the 
White Guard could not afford to leave enemies in its 
back. Forty picked aboriginals accompanied the 
volunteers. They were, of course, supplied with 
horses and learnt quickly to manage their animals 
and to get pace out of them. It was partly due to 



MARCH OVER A THOUSAND MILES 157 

their assistance that the White Guard crossed the 
interior without suffering worse losses. 

In camp on the Katherine River the White Guard 
was joined by twenty-seven volunteers from the 
Palmerston district who brought several hundred 
reserve rifles and much ammunition smuggled in 
from Queensland as well as some luxuries in the 
shape of tabacco and liquor, and thirty spare horses. 
The latest news and rumours current in Port Darwin 
about events in the South cheered the weary patriots, 
as they heard for the first time of the overthrow of 
the Moderates and of the uncompromising attitude 
of the Commonwealth Government. But the in- 
formation that the Imperial authorities had just 
ordered the closure of the Northern Territory coast 
caused profound consternation. At Port Darwin 
a strict control had already been established ; all 
firearms had been seized by the naval commander as 
far as it was possible for him ; those who wished 
to retain the use had to take out a licence and to sign 
a guarantee. The volunteers from Palmerston 
district were even afraid that a naval detachment 
might be sent after them once the reason of their 
departure and their whereabouts became known. 
To ward off surprises on the part of compatriots of 
the second degree, the White Guard shifted camp 
about fifty miles further north-east to a chain of 
waterholes in a creek bed known as Snowdrop Creek, 
and scouts were posted to guard the approach from 
the railway line. 



CHAPTER II 

IN TOUCH WITH THE ENEMY 

THE White Guard decided to make the camp 
in Snowdrop Creek the base of all further 
operations. Part of the stores and ammunition 
were hidden away thereabouts. A large shelter 
shed was constructed, with the idea that it might 
serve as a hospital some day. A paddock was 
fenced in for the horses. And to the north a track 
was blazed, marked for many miles in such a fashion 
that no true bushman could miss his way back to 
camp. Several parties of scouts had gone in that 
direction, accompanied by natives. The country 
which they had to traverse forms the backbone of 
Arnhem Land and rivals in barren desolation the 
arid plains over which the adventurers had come. 
Nearly a week elapsed before the first parties of 
scouts returned. They had discovered Japanese 
villages much further inland than had been expected. 
On the high plains, in fact. How far it was from 
there to the sea they could not tell. For afraid 
of surprises, they had not penetrated far beyond 
the foremost lines of the enemy. They had a good 
reason for this display of caution. The settlements, 
two of which they had located at a distance of about 
eighteen miles from each other, were linked up by 
telegraph, and other wires had been detected stretch- 
ing away into the unknown North. Other signs of 
intelligent management and organization abounded. 

168 



IN TOUCH WITH THE ENEMY 159 

Cultivation paddocks extended round the villages, 
the bush had been cleared away and the timber 
had been used in the construction of neat little 
houses. 

The failure of the scouts to explore the Japanese 
position thoroughly was redeemed somewhat by 
their activity in another direction. They had 
made a searching survey of the intervening country 
and had found a convenient locality which could 
serve as a stage of the impending campaign, being 
in much closer proximity to the enemy. Thomas 
Burt refers to the matter in his diary as follows : — 
" Our scouts urged that the present base was very 
suitable as a final refuge, but not within reasonable 
striking distance, particularly because the hill district 
was too awful to be crossed more than once except 
in case of direst need. They recommended that 
we should move about ninety miles to the north-east 
to a gully where fresh water was plentiful and whence 
the Japanese outposts could be reached in an easy 
ride of two days." The suggestion was acted upon 
at once. Nearly all the spare rifles and ammu- 
nition, and half the stores were taken to the new 
camping-ground, which, as subsequent exploration 
has proved beyond doubt, was situated in one of 
the head gullies of Liverpool River. And for greater 
security of retreat two different routes were marked 
from there to Snowdrop Creek. 

Everything was avoided which might convey a 
premature warning to the enemy. McPartoch 
never ceased to impress this necessity upon his men, 
which may account for the want of push exhibited 
by some of the scouts. But all precautions were 
in vain, as was shown when two bolder pioneers, 
who had relied on the fieetness of their horses and 
good fortune to carry them right to the seaboard, 
returned to the new base in company of a Japan- 



i6o ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

ese dignitary attended by two servants. It was 
altogether a curious incident. The two whites had 
come unexpectedly upon a number of Japanese 
working in a depression in the forest, who did not 
give them time to escape unnoticed, but, throwing 
away their implements, rushed forward to meet them 
with all the signs of pleasurable excitement. It 
was, for representatives of the ruling race, too late 
then to run away from unarmed Asiatics. So 
they allowed themselves to be escorted to the near- 
est village, where to their great surprise they were 
welcomed by an Enghsh-speaking, pohte headman, 
who gave a dinner in their honour. Under cover 
of his hospitality, he questioned them closely on 
the motives of their presence in those parts, and even 
alluded, in an easy, confidential way, to the White 
Guard. But the Australians remained perfectly 
cool, as if they did not know what he was talking 
about. They played the part of tourists on an ex- 
cursion from Port Darwin. After dinner, the dig- 
nitary arrived on horseback and was introduced by 
their host. He, too, proved to be a good linguist 
and interesting gossip and did not forget to refer to 
the Queensland irregulars also. At last he said : 
" I have been entrusted with a mission to the com- 
mander of the White Guard. As you, gentlemen, 
have come to enlarge your knowledge of the North- 
em Territory, you would surely like to make the 
acquaintance of this distinguished officer ; if so, I 
shall be glad to show you the way in the morning." 
Enraged at the manner in which they were made 
the dupes of the wily Asiatics, the Australians agreed 
on condition that he would guide them back if he 
failed. They stayed for the night with their host 
and were made quite comfortable. The Japanese 
dignitary kept his promise. Starting at sunrise, 
he conducted them back to camp without going 



IN TOUCH WITH THE ENEMY i6i 

wrong once, and he did so, moreover, in record 
time, arriving in the middle of the second day. 
The two whites noticed that he was guided by 
minute signs on tree stems and rocks. It was 
proof that the enemy, on his part, had explored the 
country well. 

The Japanese dignitary did not beat about the 
bush. He requested the honour of an interview 
with McPartoch, and told him that the headmen 
of the settlement had been warned — by the Im- 
perial authorities at Port Darwin, he pretended — 
that a large number of Queenslanders were mov- 
ing against them in no friendly spirit. For some 
days the outposts had reported their presence. So 
it had been decided that he should hasten to meet the 
whites to assure them that his race stood for peace 
and progress. As the white friends who accompanied 
him and whom he had encountered in the zone of 
settlement could confirm, the only war his com- 
patriots were waging was against vermin and wilder- 
ness. In doing so they were fighting for the cause of 
humanity and civilization, and they would allow 
nothing to stand in the path to hinder them. There- 
fore he had come to implore the whites that they 
might not break in suddenly and without notice upon 
the refugees, because the latter, in their ignorance, 
might take alarm and might, if thrown into a state 
of excitement, inflict very serious harm upon in- 
cautious, unannounced visitors. 

The menace, lurking beneath the calm courtesy of 
this emissary, aroused the anger of the white leaders. 
They regarded him as a spy. Some demanded 
that he should be treated as such with all severity, 
and a good many others were in favour of his re- 
tention as prisoner. But he never flinched when 
McPartoch told him plainly that he had a good mind 
not to permit him to go back. The Japanese dig- 

A,C, I, 



i62 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

nitary wanted to know what he had done to deserve 
punishment. He had placed himself in their power, 
trusting to the principle accepted by all civil- 
ized people, that voluntary negotiators should be 
immune, whatever the quarrel might be. And 
he added that, if he should remain away for long 
without any satisfactory explanation, his compa- 
triots would lose confidence in the fairness of the 
whites. For which reason he recommended strict 
adherence to international custom and to the high- 
est standard of fair dealing in all relations between 
the two races, as a matter of the greatest interest to 
the Australians, who were in a minority in these 
parts and should, therefore, for their own sake, be 
the champions of law and order. 

After a short deliberation, it was decided that 
the dignitary should be allowed to return to his own 
people, together with his servants. But he was 
asked to understand that the White Guard did not 
recognize him officially, and that he would not be 
looked upon and treated as a messenger of peace 
if he should be overtaken after a period of grace 
of twenty-four hours had elapsed. It seems that 
his dauntless bearing and cool audacity gave rise 
to some anxious discussions among the volunteers 
about the chances of the expedition, though it is 
most unlikely that anybody should have proposed 
the abandonment of their task. Probably the 
bushmen indulged merely in that inveterate habit 
of theirs to " argue a point," to dissect sportively 
the pros and cons of their chances. There 
must have been some dispute, because without 
some reason McPartoch would not have delivered 
the following address, which has been written down 
in Thomas Burt's diary : 

"Australians! Comrades!" he said, "was our 
cause just when we set out, or were we fools to come 



H WITH THE ENEMY 163 

the latter is the case, it behoves 
ise our true character by applying 
)dging to the British authorities 

For back we cannot go. Apart 
itition of the hardships which have 

hves of so many brave friends, 
re to show our faces again any- 
right sons of the Commonwealth 
lilure through cowardice ? If we 

beginning, I do not see that our 
e heavier meanwhile. We came 
. the invaders and we did not 
Ip from outside. Some may say 

must have forsaken us, judging 
ice of the enemy. Let it be so, 

cannot make our sight keener, 
ir rifles carry any further. And 
:ters our own cause, the cause of 
i for success. If the people of the 
em to hesitate and to be slow of 

because they are not fully awake 
•r because they do not yet tnist 
1 strength. It is for you to 

example we could inspire our 

confidence, if we could impel 
doubt and doubters, to rally 
I fight for our common destiny, 
lid. Let us but maintain our 
shall not stand alone for long, 
ing whites should be able to 
their country too hot for brown 
s to camp on. And should de- 
[ can say is this : let the survivor 
stralia is big and full of harbours 
atroits need not fear betrayal." 
;ch brushed away all scruples, if 
listed. Loud shouts of applause 



< fi 



i64 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

rewarded the brave commander. The dice had 
been cast. A handful of bold bushmen had declared 
war to the knife against the subjects of a great 
power. Camp was broken immediately afterwards 
as a precaution against a possible Japanese surprise, 
and was re-formed at a point about fifteen miles 
further north under different conditions. For now, 
so near the enemy, concentration of the whole force 
in one spot would have been courting disaster. It 
was never done again over the entire period of 
which records are left. Instead, an ever varying 
number of sub-camps became the rule, mostly 
three or four, but as many as six or seven in danger- 
ous localities, and the number was never the 
same for two nights running, for the purpose of 
confusing the scouts of the enemy. The camps were 
arranged now in a straight line, now in some simple 
geometrical figure, as suggested by the nature of 
the ground. Sentries kept up the connexion be- 
tween the sub-camps, which were strictly guarded. 
The night was divided into three parts, and one third 
of the inmates watched while the others were sleep- 
ing. 

During the stay on the Katherine River the 
organization had been perfected. The leaders 
had recognized that the nature of the country and 
the disposition of the men made pitched battles an 
improbabihty. The White Guard was, indeed, 
best fitted to guerilla warfare, which would set 
free every man to act according to his own ideas 
and to exploit his own knowledge of the bush to 
the greatest advantage. Under such circumstances 
the course of contest would be sure to become most 
intricate. In desultory action it is necessary to 
specialize the management, so that individual impulse 
may be given a wide field, while timely checks are ever 
in readiness to be applied at the right moment in the 



IN TOUCH WITH THE ENEMY 165 

proper place. It was evident that six lieutenants 
would be unable to exercise such intimate control. 
This consideration led to further incisures. Each 
company was divided into three sections which 
were entrusted to sub-lieutenants ; each section was 
broken up into three files under the command of 
sergeants. Thus responsible leadership was created 
for every file of ten men. The entire staff was 
selected by equal votes ; each company and each 
section picking its own favourites. But once the 
choice had been made, stern discipline was exacted. 
Yet so devoted were the men to the cause, or so 
little leisure for quarrel was left them by the vigi- 
lant enemy, that there are actually no records of 
insubordination in Thomas Burt's diary. The sub- 
lieutenants were distinguished by a thin red ribbon, 
the sergeants by a thin black ribbon worn on the 
left sleeve. For the democratic spirit of the force 
did not permit the use of more pronounced badges, 
which, besides, would have given a cue to the 
Japanese marksmen. Perhaps for this reason 
the Commander-in-Chief and his six lieutenants did 
without any decoration, relying wholly on their 
well-known identities. 

All the search parties had returned. Only in one 
further instance the enemy had taken notice. It 
happened to a file led by a daring Queenslander, 
who was bent on a flying trip right through the in- 
vaded territory. Skirting a village the file was 
called upon to halt. They rode on, until a hail of 
bullets, whistling over their heads, stopped them. 
There was a shout. On all sides Japanese broke 
cover, waving white handkerchiefs in sign of peace. 
One of them advanced smiling, asking in very 
good English whether the visitors had a permit. 
" Australians do not carry permits on journeys in 
their own country," was the cold reply. 



i66 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

" It is indispensable these times to prevent mis- 
understandings. I believe you can get them on 
application to the Imperial authorities at Port 
Darwin," the Japanese said. " With a permit, I 
shall be glad to show you over our little settlement 
myself," he added. " Without one, your way lies 
there." He pointed south. 

" You're wrong. To the north, to the sea," the 
Queenslander cried, with a curse. "I'll see who 
can stop me." 

His interviewer turned to give an order. Quick 
as lightning, the Japanese disappeared behind 
trees and rocks. But the muzzle of their guns 
showed threateningly. The spokesman changed 
his tone, " Don't be a fool," he exclaimed, in a 
stern voice. " Within fifty yards round about, you 
are outmatched ten to one. One signal from me — 
or one insult," he cried, for the Queenslander raised 
his whip, " and you will be wiped out. I act on my 
orders, I warn you. We don't want bloodshed. 
Our race is strong and proud enough not to wish 
to fight with odds on our side." 

The white men had to accept the position. They 
had no orders to open hostihties. Of course, 
they might have feigned retreat, and might have 
continued their advance afterwards. But such a 
course would have exposed them to similar, or 
worse, insults at any time. So they turned back, 
vowing vengence under more favourable circum- 
stances. 

The humiliation was felt deeply by their com- 
rades. Nevertheless the occurrence lifted a weight 
off their minds. There had been harassing doubt 
about the method of opening hostihties. The idea 
of marching into the Japanese zone of settlement 
and beginning to shoot people on sight right and 
left without proper warning, had always seemed 



IN TOUCH WITH THE ENEMY 167 

hateful. All qualms of conscience or chivalrous ob- 
jections were set at rest now. For it was the enemy 
who had committed the first act of war by stopping 
the advance of white Australians with bullets. 
If their own rifles rang out, it would be in reply to a 
challenge and in retribution. Every man yearned 
for the moment when first blood would be drawn. 
Realities were wanted to give rehef from ever-in- 
creasing nervousness which, apart from the influence 
of isolation and uncertainty, was fostered by the 
anxiety of the returned scouts, many of whom 
seemed to scent spies everywhere. That the Japan- 
ese had a splendid intelligence service and followed 
closely every movement of the White Guard, was 
proved, indeed, by the events of the immediate past. 
Obviously, the best defence against their tactics 
was a rapid blow at the heart of their organization, 
strong enough to crumple up the artfully woven 
net in which they evidently thought to enmesh the 
Australians. 

High spirits, gaiety even, marked the last day 
of the great march which brought the White Guard 
right up against the enemy. It camped at night 
less than fourteen miles from the nearest Japanese 
village. The men were in fine condition, and so 
were their horses, after the interval of rest. 
Australian horsemen have no peers the world over. 
They relied on their extreme mobility. Fear was 
far from their hearts. Like a hailstorm they 
hoped to sweep over the Turanians, beating to the 
ground all resistance, and vanishing into bush and 
jungle before the enemy would have time to collect 
his wits. The volunteers knew well that their 
opponents, whose military virtues they respected 
otherwise, did not excel mounted. That was the 
great advantage of the White Guard, as long as it 
did not permit itself to be drawn into a pitched 



i68 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

battle, where its superior agility would be neu- 
tralized. McPartoch and the more thoughtful leaders 
never ceased to warn their men against mock 
heroics. 

And their persuasion counted for something. So 
stern, so bent on success were these six hundred 
Australians, that they even agreed in solemn council 
that night to sacrifice their wounded rather than 
to make a stand under unfavourable conditions. 
Rescue work was to be strictly limited. If a man 
fell, a comrade might help him on to his horse, or 
might get a sound horse, if handy. But if the man 
was too badly wounded to maintain himself in 
the saddle, and the enemy was pressing hard, then 
he should be left to his fate. For the attempt to 
assist a dangerously wounded comrade would soon 
gather about him more or less stationary and ex- 
posed groups of his mates, who would form a 
welcome target for the hostile marksmen under 
cover. The weal or woe of incapacitated individuals 
could not be allowed to threaten the cause with ruin. 
Even if one or the other might be saved temporarily 
he had not much chance to survive the tear and wear 
of the campaign, without the slightest hospital 
comforts. He would be a drag on the force, his 
sufferings would propably depress the spirits of his 
comrades, and there would be no equivalent for 
all this trouble. It was better not to try. If the 
wounded man had energy to scorn the mercy of 
aliens, the last shot from his revolver would place 
him beyond their reach. 

Such were the merciless yet necessary rules formu- 
lated by the gallant volunteers, before whom 
there was no other alternative but victory or death. 
In practice the rigour abated somewhat. Within 
each file the promptings of natural friendship drew 
together little clans of two or three or four members, 



IN TOUCH WITH THE ENEMY 169 

and it soon became customary among these to bind 
themselves solemnly that, whatever might befall 
until the end of the war, they would live and die 
together. Friends thus linked always rode and 
ought side by side. As only a few men were 
involved in each case, and this system served to 
restrain outsiders, the leaders tolerated it. It was, 
of course, understood that, where duty demanded 
such heroic self-sacrifice, there could be no room 
for Asiatic prisoners. That logical conclusion re- 
quired no official proclamation. 

On July 20, 1912, early in the morning, the White 
Guard advanced to the assault. Every man knew 
that the first clash could not be delayed for many 
hours longer, for the line of march led straight upon 
the southernmost Japanese village. They rode 
in a very open formation. The rifles of the van- 
guard, composed of one company, extended over 
a wide stretch of country. Two more companies 
protected the flanks, a fourth the rear, while the 
other two companies occupied the centre. Spare 
horses were divided among the groups to provide 
against losses, but the reserve animals and the 
stores, which had been re-packed on the quieter 
steeds, remained with Thomas Burt's commissariat 
company in the middle column. Altogether, the 
few hundred men covered, from the scouts of the 
extreme front to the last rear file, about five miles 
in length and three miles in width. Though very 
often lost to each other's sight, the divisions remained 
in perfect touch by means of a simple code of signals 
— animal cries, in the striking imitation of which 
bushmen are adept. As they developed their lines 
in halts and dashes, it would not have been possible 
even for a careful observer to estimate correctly the 
strength of each unit or of the entire force. This was 
another measure of protective deception well thought 
out. 



170 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

The scouts had advanced about eight miles 
when they were challenged suddenly by a small de- 
tachment of Japanese who pushed forward boldly 
within talking distance, waving white handker- 
chiefs. McPartoch had ridden immediately behind 
the vanguard and hurried to the spot, curtly asking 
what they wanted. The Japanese, meanwhile, 
had thrown down their ensigns of peace and raised 
a long pole, on which they unfurled a Union Jack. 
Then they solemnly bared their heads to the flag. 
The Australians looked on in stony silence, 
McPartoch repeated his question. In reply the flag 
was pushed under his nose, as if it was expected that 
the white man should salute it. He pushed it 
disdainfully aside, among shouts of derision from the 
volunteers. Next, the Japanese covered themselves 
before the spokesman, addressed him in these words : 
" In the name of His Britannic Majesty ! why do 
you come here in martial array ? We are peaceful 
subjects of His Imperial Majesty. You are welcome, 
but first lay down your arms ! " 

A roar went up. All the pent-up fury, all the 
mortal hatred against the impudent invader who 
dared to dictate to Australians on Australian soil, 
found vent in it. A hundred muzzles were lowered 
— the answer came in a flash. From the bodies of 
the fallen Japanese, dark blood oozed, staining the 
Union Jack which had tumbled in between them. 
McPartoch dashed forward and seized the flag. The 
van wavered for a second or two, then swept back in 
wild stampede, fleeing instinctively from a prepared 
trap. And the whole White Guard was engulfed 
in the panic-like retreat. It saved them from loss. 
For immediately afterwards, from thickets on the 
left flank and from a ridge in front the enemy 
discharged volley after volley. Some miles back 
the fugutives eased their pace. As the men of the 



IN TOUCH WITH THE ENEMY 171 

different companies met, pale, dishevelled, they 
broke out, all at once, in a great shout of laughter. 
It ran right through the ranks. The tension was 
relieved. They were now committed irrevocably. 
Swiftly and resolutely they faced round again. 
Order was restored. The scouts plodded on 
tenaciously, and soon the firing began quite lively. 
At last the death struggle between the two races had 
begun in earnest. 



CHAPTER III 

THE FIRST CAMPAIGN 

McPARTOCH determined to dislodge the 
enemy. The nature of the country 
favoured the display of Australian bush craft. A 
shallow, densely wooded depression was in front of the 
strong ridge occupied by the Japanese and a belt 
of scrub bent round its flank. They were soon 
expelled from the forest and scrub, but made a 
stubborn defence of the hill, whence they made 
frequent sallies against the Australian vanguard 
which had dismounted and crept forward steadily. 
But the position was too strong to be taken by 
frontal attack without disproportionate sacrifice. 
At length the white commander tried a ruse. He 
ordered his rear company, which was out of sight 
of the enemy, to the back of the ridge under cover 
of the scrub belt. Then the vanguard fell back, 
feigning exhaustion. This stratagem proved suc- 
cessful. The defenders, noticing the front attack 
was weakening, dashed out in great force, flinging 
aside the scouts. They found, however, their 
further advance stopped by terrible volleys from 
the Austrahan's main lines and were driven back 
again. Before they could regain their original 
position, it was carried from flank and rear by the 
ambuscade, and they were surrounded by a ring 
of fire. Only a few escaped. About 300 Japanese 
corpses were counted in the bush. Twenty-one 
Austrahans were missing. 



THE FIRST CAMPAIGN 173 

After all, McPartoch was only half satisfied. 
His own losses were considerable. But the worst 
was that here, at the outset of the campaign, the 
White Guard had been drawn into a pitched battle, 
in spite of all good intentions to the contrary. As 
it happened, fortune had smiled. If reinforce- 
ments could have been hurried up on the other side, 
victory might have been turned into disaster. And 
the Australians, elated with success, might now be 
tempted to try a similar game under less suspicious 
conditions without reflecting that even in this case 
surprise tactics had won the day. McPartoch 
addressed his men on the subject in great earnest, 
candidly blaming himself and warning them that, 
if any section should imitate his proceedings without 
special orders, it would be left to its fate, because 
he would not consent to ruin the cause for its safety. 

The advance was resumed. About noon, the 
White Guard skirted the southernmost settlement 
of the Japanese. Scouts dismounted and approached 
cautiously. It was not long before they drew fire. 
But nothing could be seen of the defenders, who 
remained invisible throughout, though the Austra- 
lians, enraged by the shooting of a comrade, tried 
every means to lure them from their haunts. This 
peaceful village was, in fact, a well-contrived fortifi- 
cation, like all the others which were subsequently 
discovered. It was surrounded by a breast-high 
earth rampart steadied with logs. The abutting 
huts were constructed of stout timber with narrow 
slits on the outside in place of window-openings. 
Each formed a separate stronghold and was so flanked 
by others that even if it should be carried by storm, a 
destructive crossfire could be concentrated upon it 
from the nearest buildings. Big logs, apparently 
thrown about carelessly, afforded in reality cover 
for free communication between^ the several points 



174 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

of importance within the settlements. Many strong 
trees and some patches of scrub had also been left 
standing within its confines and completed the almost 
bullet-proof screen behind which the inhabitants 
could move in comparative security. Outside, 
a large space had been cleared thoroughly from 
protecting vegetation, thus offering no scope for 
bushman tactics. The village stood on a gentle 
slope. No doubt wells had been dug inside provid- 
ing for an independent water supply. A few hun- 
dred men could hold it against an army without 
artillery. They could only be dislodged by a general 
assault, and the White Guard was not strong enough 
to risk many lives in such a desperate venture. 

After a close watch extending over several hours, 
enlivened by an occasional exchange of shots, the 
siege was raised. A mile outside, the telegraphic 
connexion was cut off by the removal of a long 
stretch of wire. As the search parties had reported 
already, a network of telegraphs hnked up the 
Japanese settlements. Information of every move- 
ment of the Austrahans, therefore, was sure to be 
transmitted without delay to headquarters, wherever 
that might be. The White Guard was determined 
to find out. That night it camped ten miles to the 
rear of the first unconquered line of the enemy. 

The Australians rode on all next day (July 21) 
without meeting with any traces of Japanese 
occupation. They had been compelled, on account 
of the advanced season, to swing round to the east, 
so that they might remain in the vicinity of water. 
Incidentally, they hoped to outflank in this way 
the foreworks of the enemy. For it was the aim of 
the White Guard to locate his headquarters or 
capital. McPartoch conjectured that it must be 
situated on or near the seaboard. Before accurate 
knowledge had been acquired of the Japanese centre 



THE FIRST CAMPAIGN 175 

of power, it was impossible to form a useful plan of 
campaign. 

The night passed without disturbance. But on 
the following morning (July 22) the Austrahans 
became soon aware that they were being shadowed. 
Sometimes, they caught a glimpse of horsemen 
dashing across some far-off opening in the forest. It 
was the first intimation that the enemy had a cavalry 
force. A few were laid low with unerring aims, but, 
of course, the whites could not waste time in the 
pursuit of sohtary foes. By noon, these scouts had 
disappeared entirely. An hour later, the Australian 
vanguard came unexpectedly upon a village. All 
at once it received fire from a point about a mile to 
the west of the settlement. The leading company 
rushed forward, under the impression that the 
inhabitants, working in their paddocks, had been 
cut off from their base. But McPartoch, old cam- 
paigner as he was, restrained his men and contented 
himself with concealing two sections in a patch of 
scrub whence their rifles commanded the settlement. 
Then he began to surround the locality from which 
the shots had been fired. He was soon satisfied 
that he was opposed by a force of several hun- 
dred men, evidently a military unit, and as 
eager for the fray as the White Guard. As they 
were in thick country, where bushman skill 
had a fair chance, he attacked them with two 
companies. The Japanese, impatient of battle, 
met his advance with a vigorous counterstroke, 
calculated to push the Australians back in the 
direction of the village. But the latter, experts 
at taking cover, withstood the blow. The struggle 
became very bitter. At its height, the villagers, 
who so far had given no sign of existence, suddenly 
dashed from behind their ramparts to take the 
White Guard in the rear. So they exposed them- 



176 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

selves to the fire of the two sections hidden in the 
scrub, who poured volley after volley into them. 
They wavered, then turned and fled. To complete 
their defeat, a few mounted files swept down upon 
them, riding them under foot. But the mounted 
files were subjected to a severe fusillade by the 
defenders of the village who had not participated 
in the sally and who shot upon them without regard 
to the damage they might do to their own com- 
patriots who were still outside. 

The ambush of the Japanese had failed, their field 
force was enveloped and in danger of annihilation, 
when an unexpected noise of rifle discharges coming 
from the extreme rear induced McPartoch to break 
off the fight hurriedly. The commotion was caused 
by Japanese cavalry which was engaging, at this 
critical moment, the last lingering lines of Australian 
scouts. It was not numerous, and was quickly 
repulsed. But it had gained its end. The White 
Guard retreated in some confusion, which cost 
several valuable lives. Once more it had been 
impossible to restrain the ardour of individuals. 
Even the cautious commander had been carried 
away by his zeal. And again the result had been 
a pitched battle, with its corresponding neutrahza- 
tion of the one great Austrahan advantage of 
superior mobility. If there existed no possibility of 
preventing this, it was easy to foresee a day when the 
Japanese, improving in staying capacity as they 
became ingrained to guerilla warfare, would succeed 
to lure on the White Guard until they should be 
able to overwhelm it by force of numbers. What 
did it matter that the Australians would sell their 
lives dearly ? The enemy could evidently afford 
huge losses, as was shown by his action of firing into 
a crowd of his own people to deal death to its pur- 
suers. 



THE FIRST CAMPAIGN 177 

Sixteen Australians had been killed. A score 
was wounded. Among the latter was a young 
Tasmanian, who had been shot through the neck. 
He was a mere boy, about twenty years old, and 
very much liked. Often he had entertained the 
older comrades by exultant little stories of his 
sweetheart, a photograph of whom he cherished as 
his most precious possession. Now he was carried 
back from the battlefield in the arms of a herculean 
mate, his eyes closed, his face the pallor of death, 
while beside the pair his own horse cantered like a 
big, faithful dog. Not before the White Guard 
fixed camp for the night, many miles from the scene 
of bloodshed, could he get medical attention. Then 
it was too late. The young fellow died under the 
hands of the doctor. His comrades stood by 
silently, while the doctor, who seemed strangely 
interested, made a post-mortem examination. 
Suddenly he jumped up. " By God," he cried, 
*' I had my suspicions before. This settles them. 
Boys, they are using dum-dums against us as if we 
were niggers. This wound would not have been 
mortal if it had been caused by a Christian bullet. 
It was a dum-dum did the work." 

He showed the men the jagged sides of the egress 
hole, the torn, widened channel of the projectile. 
For the moment they were too stupefied to say 
much. The poor boy was buried under a big tree, 
with the picture of his sweetheart upon his breast. 

Then the necessities of the living demanded their 
right. As it had been impossible the last few days 
to secure a sufficiency of game, and as it was pru- 
dent to reserve the tinned provisions for a real 
emergency, the Austrahans had been forced to rely 
for food mainly on the superfluous horse of their 
dead. It was not a time to cultivate an over- 
dainty taste, and once the prejudice had been over_ 

AX. M 



178 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

come, the flesh of young horse became recognized as a 
toothsome diet and as the great stand-by for men 
who, being in the saddle all their waking hours, 
required strong, sustaining meat. The horse of 
the fallen Tasmanian was selected for the evening 
repast. But in this case, the simple act of killing 
an animal for food was transformed into a rite of 
terrible significance. 

Thomas Burt, in his diary, has left a suggestive 
description : " How the idea originated," he writes, 
" I can't explain. Several men of his section ran 
into the bush and returned with some flowery 
creepers and bright-leaved boughs. With these 
they garlanded the horse as if for sacrifice. He was 
shot, and after the jugular vein had been opened for 
bleeding, they dipped their fingers into the gore, 
whereupon they joined bloodstained hands and 
swore a frightful oath, calling on the name of the 
dead boy, that they would never spare the fife of a 
Japanese, war or peace. This example had a 
hypnotic effect. Men rushed in from all sides to 
imitate it. Everywhere groups formed of blood- 
smeared comrades, the camp-fires playing gruesomely 
on their inflamed faces and eyes reflecting a paroxysm 
of rage, who took the vow in the same words, often 
in low, strained voices which imparted to it the 
character of some ghastly incantation." 

The manufacture of dum-dums by means of 
removing or cutting the tops of bullets became at 
once the established industry in the Australian camp. 
Their employment by the enemy had silenced for 
ever the last lingering misgivings prompted by 
humanitarian considerations. The Japanese had 
revealed their secret thoughts : that for the white 
vermin infesting the tropical wilderness dum-dums 
were the correct thing. 

Benefiting by the experience of the last two days, 



THE FIRST CAMPAIGN 



179 



McPartoch again subdivided his force by halving 
the files into squads, doubling the number of ser- 
geants. This measure resulted in a more perfect 
scouting service and a still looser formation, which 
permitted a more rapid withdrawal from action 
of the units. So, under the pressure of circumstances, 
a wonderfully agile and elastic organization had been 
evolved. Some further adjustments were made 
calculated to increase the efficiency. Till then, 
rests on the march had been ill regulated, and par- 
ticularly the breaking of camp in the morning had 
often been somewhat disorderly. It was now 
ordained that breakfast should always be finished 
before sunrise and that a general halt should be the 
rule during the hottest hours of the day, provided 
that the safety of the corps should allow it. 

Early next day (July 23) there was no sign of the 
enemy. Everything seemed favourable to a swift 
advance. The changing character of the vegetation 
left no doubt that the coast was not very distant. 
Surface water was met with more often, and the 
White Guard was now able to travel right across 
country in a north-westerly direction. It passed 
one village during the morning, and later two 
artificial clearings in the forest. Had these latter 
been abandoned as places for habitation, or 
were they being prepared for new settlers ? In 
the second case, where would the settlers come from ? 
Would they be drafted from older villages or from 
concentration camps on the sea board ? Or would 
new imports arrive from oversea ? So early, 
according to an entry in Thomas Burt's diary, the 
white men were struck by this idea of a steady 
inpour of invaders. 

But, after all, progress was not so rapid as had 
been hoped for. The country became more difficult. 
In places the high plains dipped steeply into 



i8o ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

creek valleys, which were covered half-way up with 
dense jungle and formed ideal hiding nooks for 
ambuscades. Further north the network of water- 
courses, dry channels, headlands, jungle, forest 
and rock became ever more intricate. It was 
impossible to explore thoroughly over such ground. 
Several times the intrepid Austrahans had to turn 
back in their tracks, confronted by insurmountable 
obstacles. These happenings caused much anxiety. 
For if ever their advance should be barred by natural 
impediments while the enemy was so close in pursuit 
that they would have to fight a retreat through 
his ranks, terrible disaster might follow. But 
apparently the enemy had lost touch again, for they 
did not see a single Japanese scout that day, and the 
inhabitants of the sohtary village passed by them 
did not venture outside their ramparts. 

Next morning (July 24) the White Guard was 
crossing the head of a gully when it received fire 
from a narrow neck on the further side. Its march, 
of course, was delayed while its scouts pushed for- 
ward to reconnoitre the hostile position. The 
enemy seemed to have counted upon this hesitation. 
Suddenly, a strong division of Japanese cavalry 
attacked the Austrahans in front and from the 
left flank. It had abandoned the Fabian tactics 
for which it had been distinguished hitherto. Instead, 
it dashed in at a tremendous pace, and so wild and 
well-directed was its charge that the foremost squads 
of the White Guard were cut to pieces. Reinforce- 
ments rode up quickly, throwing themselves into 
the battle with enthusiasm. They belonged to 
Thomas Burt's company, which now shared in the 
struggle for the first time. The famous diarist 
himself led his men, whose dexterity on horseback 
soon outclassed the Turanians. Still, the latter 
resisted stoutly. Though overwhelmed on all sides, 



THE FIRST CAMPAIGN 



i»i 



they preferred to die rather than to give way. 
And those who fell mortally wounded took a 
parting shot at the horses of their opponents 
if they felt their sight growing too dim to hit 
the men, or they killed their own animals. There 
was a grim significance in that act. For the 
White Guard, unhorsed, would be doomed to 
speedy extermination in the hands of their relent- 
less enemies. 

The cavalry contest had diverted the attention 
of the Australians from the Japanese infantr}^ in 
front, which had had time to develop long lines of 
marksmen in the scrub. And these now made a 
furious assault on their part. At the same time, 
a desultory fusillade came from the rear and left 
flank. It proceeded in rapid succession from several 
places and led McPartoch to the belief that more 
cavalry was approaching from that quarter. He 
apprehended another rush, with the result that his 
force would be caught between two fires. He also 
recognized that the infantry, extended in a thin line 
followed by two more lines, could not be repulsed 
without great loss on his part. Already men and 
horses were falling under their deadly volleys. 
Instantly, he gave the order to retreat. The signal 
ran along his ranks and next moment the White 
Guard was racing away, bearing to the left, and 
over-riding the Japanese horsemen, who had survived 
the encounter with Thomas Burt's company, in their 
flight. Once more the volunteers had escaped 
with honour, but not unscathed. Forty-one com- 
rades were missing. Six more were so badly 
wounded that, though they had contrived to save 
themselves from the battlefield, they were unable 
to ride on any longer. 

Here was a new problem. Men were in the 
ranks who had been wounded lightly — on this 



i82 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARt) 

occasion there were about two score of them — and 
who had been able to look after themselves, when 
the surgeons, who numbered four in all, had dressed 
their injuries. Two or three, indeed, had committed 
suicide, when they felt worse and did not wish 
to become drags. But not everybody possessed 
strength of mind to emulate this heroic example, 
though there was none unwilling to sacrifice his 
life in honest fight. As mercy was neither expected 
nor conceded, the possibihty that men struck within 
an ace of death should escape only to collapse in 
utter helplessness a little later had not been thought 
of previously. Instinct revolted against the idea 
that disabled comrades, still warm with hfe, should 
be left behind to perish in the wilderness or by the 
hands of loathsome aliens. It did not matter that a 
solemn covenant existed approving of such a course — 
the thing could not be done. On the other hand, 
the safety of all demanded that the mobility of the 
White Guard should not be lessened. 

A handy bush carpenter solved the difficulty by 
devising a combination of stretcher and chair, made 
of stout sticks and a wicker work of pliable boughs, 
and provided with uprights at the back which 
would keep the occupant in a half-sitting position 
with his legs stretched level before him. The 
whole was well secured with telegraph wire and 
covered with blankets and clothing to ease its 
roughness. Each stretcher was mounted on a 
quiet horse. Then the wounded man was lifted 
into it. By means of a long bridle, he could con- 
trol the animal himself, if he felt well enough, 
otherwise, a comrade would lead it. Ingenious 
as this moving field hospital had been arranged, 
the ordeal, which the sufferers had to undergo 
during the swift march of the White Guard over 
rocky ground or through forests where the horses 



THE FIRST CAMPAIGN 183 

stumbled over roots and creepers, was terrible 
and killed most. Still, the best had been done 
for them under the circumstances, and a few were 
saved, and were spared ultimately for a kinder fate 
than was in store for their hale mates. 

The best part of the afternoon was spent in caring 
for the wounded ; so that not much progress could 
be made during the remainder of the day. But the 
scouts discovered two telegraph lines running 
parallel to each other at a distance of about three 
miles and in an almost straight northerly direction. 
There could be no doubt that these wires connected 
outlying villages with the Japanese capital and 
that the White Guard was now right in the centre 
of the zone of settlement. The lines were not cut, so 
that the enemy might receive no warning of the 
whereabouts of the Australians. The night passed 
without disturbance. 

In the morning (July 25,) it was found that two 
of the badly wounded men had died. Some others, 
who had been reported as slightly hurt and had 
been present after the battle, did not respond to the 
roll call. Everybody knew what this meant : 
a few more brave hearts had felt unable to keep up 
the pace any longer and had retired to some quiet 
nook to make an end, so that they might not become 
a burden and an impediment. Gloom began to 
spread among the patriotic rough-riders and grew 
ever more supreme. The gaiety and high spirits 
so natural to the children of sun-kissed Australia, 
which had marked the commencement of the enter- 
prise, vanished bit by bit, as the terrible odds 
against which they were fighting were more clearly 
realized. None, of course, had believed that they 
were marching against famishing weaklings. All 
the same, none had expected such fierce opposition. 
The majority had not troubled themselves much 



i84 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

about the details of the impending campaign. It 
had been sufficient for them to know that the Com- 
monwealth was invaded and that every good Austra- 
han was bound to revenge the insult. Still, at the 
back of the mind of nearly every one traditions of the 
colonial exploits in the Boer war had survived and 
made him look forward to something like it : a series 
of raids on farms and ill-defended settlements, a 
continual harassing of the enemy, sudden surprises, 
a never-ending guerilla war in which the mounted 
bushmen had imagined themselves as appearing, 
phantom-like, now here, now miles away, but always 
aggressive and vanishing before the adversary 
should have recovered breath to strike back. And 
this game was to be continued until the Turanians 
should be reduced to such despair that they should 
have to appeal to Great Britain for protection, 
which would never be granted, or else to land armies, 
and thus to reveal their real designs, when the 
Empire, for its own sake, would have to rally to the 
side of the Commonwealth. 

It was a beautiful dream, but the disillusion came 
after the first few days of the campaign. Then 
the Australians began to understand the haughty 
bearing of the Japanese dignitary who had warned 
and vexed them. He had an army at his back, 
perfectly organized, splendidly equipped, under a 
subtle leadership undaunted by disaster and losses. 
The latter had been enormous, but it seemed that 
the enemy looked upon them as fair payment for 
experience. Possessed of such spirit, he might 
bring about a complete reversal any day. Already 
the Japanese were not content to defend themselves ; 
they had taken the offensive and had thus touched 
the weakest spot of the White Guard. For a corps 
of horsemen, with no stronghold to fall back upon, 
without reserves, living from hand to mouth, must 



THE FIRST CAMPAIGN 185 

become demoralized in the end if they were made 
the hares instead of being the hounds. The enemy 
had the advantage of the inner hne of well-placed 
fortifications in telegraphic inter-communication 
and, consequently, of a reliable intelligence service. 
His scouts rivalled the Australians in daring. And 
the latter noticed resentfully that the brown men 
looked spick and span in prime condition, while they 
themselves began to have a rather tattered appear- 
ance. 

Possibly this contrast of drab raggedness fast 
losing the faintest vestige of smartness was more than 
anything else responsible for the depression ruling 
in the ranks of the White Guard. The influence of 
the natural surroundings was another dispiriting 
factor. Thomas Burt's diary gives, in itself, a 
very good indication of the progress in intensity of 
the sombre moodiness which cast an ever-darkening 
shadow over the gallant band. At first all sorts of 
little traits are noted down in it, personal items 
and even humorous snapshots such as a man might 
write who had gone on an excursion of pleasurable 
excitement. As the days passed, the purely human 
interest grows steadily weaker, until it gives way 
entirely to military records, of councils of war, 
of moves and counter-moves, of battle, pursuit 
and plans, of privations and losses, in short, to 
records of the technicahties of the campaign. To- 
wards the end, the clearness of the depositions suffers 
under an intrusion of speculation about the enemy 
and about the chances of success, and the accents 
of the hopelessness of it all became dominant. Then 
men, even the leaders, appear puny, mere drifts on 
the implacable course of events, even as in the 
moment of an earthquake the whole surface, hills, 
rivers, houses, trees, people, everything, seems 
insignificant in the sway of the all-enfolding tremor- 
waves. 



i86 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

There is a remark in the diary to the effect that 
the author could not turn his thoughts upon any 
other subject but the enemy. Others confessed 
the same. They were strangely fascinated by the 
stealthiness of his methods, so much so that the 
bravest would run all sorts of unnecessary risks to 
investigate more closely. Scouts pushed on and 
on, fancying that they had picked up some thread 
of special information, until they had lost all con- 
nexion with the main force, though they knew 
that they were infringing discipline by their action. 
Something unfathomable seemed to lurk in the 
silent bush and to lure them on. There was mon- 
strous deliberation, an impassive stolidity foreign 
to white men, something vague and fantastic like 
a troubled dream about this menacing settlement 
of an Asiatic race separated from them by a mutual 
gulf of incomprehensibility. It was as if a monster 
had made the wilderness its lair and was lying in 
wait there, playing its warriors like pawns in a game 
of chess, without compassion, without fear, and 
planning all the time the destruction of White 
Australia. Men unconsciously lowered their voices 
discussing it. Often in the stillness of night, men 
would suddenly cry out in their sleep and jump to 
their feet, startled by a nightmare of the unutter- 
able horror they were fighting against. 

The supposed proximity of the Japanese main 
settlement induced McPartoch to exercise the 
greatest carefulness. But an incident happened 
after a ride of some hours which convinced him 
that for once the enemy had lost touch entirely 
or had miscalculated the whereabouts of the Austra- 
lians. For the White Guard overtook a Japanese 
detachment of about 200 men marching north, 
which allowed itself to be attacked unawares. Here, 
at last, the volunteers had a chance to spring a 



THE FIRST CAMPAIGN 187 

surprise in the style which should have been the rule 
of the campaign as once imagined by them. And 
they acquitted themselves handsomely. Only a few 
Japanese escaped into the bush. As a military 
force, they were wiped out completely, at a cost to 
the Australians of but two men killed and three 
slightly wounded. 

After this exploit, McPartoch turned to th^ north-- 
east. He suspected that the noise of the battle 
might have been heard in the capital of the enemy, 
which could not be distant, as the White Guard had 
crossed several telegraph lines in rapid succession 
which were no longer running parallel to each 
other, but converging upon a point farther north. 
And he concluded that on the spot where they 
would intersect the Japanese headquarters must 
be situated. He was leaving the straight direction 
because he wished to evade the reinforcements which 
the enemy, alarmed by the shooting, might hurry up. 

It was about three o'clock in the afternoon when 
some vanguard scouts on the left wing reported that 
they had had a glimpse of a large river, or inlet of 
the sea, and of a big settlement on its far side. Half 
an hour later, McPartoch and his leading officers 
were scanning the scene through their glasses. 
There lay, on the western shore of a sheltered inlet 
about two miles wide, a town or rather a group of 
four villages, sharply divided like the quarters of a 
mediaeval city, round a central fort. The fort stood 
on a gentle rise and consisted of several wooden 
sheds or barracks surrounded by an inner wall and 
outer rampart and ditch. All the telegraph wires 
ended in a small watch-tower on top of the biggest 
building, thus marking it as the headquarters. 
Sentinels paced to and fro, and several hundred 
men were being drilled in the grounds of the fort. 
It was evident that considerable excitement pre- 



i88 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE CxUARD 

vailed. Messengers on horseback arrived and de- 
parted frequently. A large cavalry force left town. 
The men of the White Guard knew the reason for 
the activity. It was they who were being searched 
for. 

They were separated only by a sheet of water from 
the goal of their endeavours. Yet they saw that it 
was unattainable. The Japanese capital was im- 
pregnable. Thousands were guarding it. Thousands 
more were doubtless scouring the country to take 
revenge for the massacre of the morning. It 
did not seem to enter the mind of the enemy that 
the Australians were on the opposite bank. Half a 
dozen boats and a steam launch were anchored in 
the inlet, but nobody came to use them for investi- 
gation. McPartoch, on his part, was careful not 
to betray the whereabouts of the White Guard. Of 
course, the men could not be restrained from hav- 
ing a peep. But they had to dismount in the bush 
and to creep up softly by twos and threes. Night 
was falling while they were still thus engaged. 
And under the sunset sky of gold and green the 
settlement and the cultivation paddocks around it 
looked indescribably peaceful. But the Australians 
could not permit themselves to be deceived by ap- 
pearances. The leaders recognized now that they 
had located the headquarters of the enemy, that 
their hope of success did not lie at its gate. Its neigh- 
bourhood was fraught with danger of annihilation to 
them. Their only chance lay in the open country 
against the isolated villages. Perhaps they might 
yet achieve something there, after having gained 
a thorough knowledge of the Japanese methods. 

Above all, the White Guard required a reasonable 
rest of a few days after the unbroken excitement of 
the first week's campaign to recuperate its moral 
balance and to prepare a sensible plan of further 



THE FIRST CAMPAIGN 189 

activity. But no respite could be had as long as the 
Australians remained within a short distance from 
the enemy's centre of power. The leaders, indeed, 
looked forward with grave anxiety to the night which 
of necessity had to be spent so near to it. Tinned pro- 
visions were served out, no fires were allowed. Re- 
treat was the password for the morning. 



CHAPTER IV 

RETREAT AND REINFORCEMENT 

THE ignorance which the movements of the 
enemy on the previous day seemed to imply re- 
garding the whereabouts of the White Guard, was 
either another strategic trick from the outset to lull 
into a false security the watchfulness of the volun- 
teers, or it had been dispelled very quickly. Even 
before dawn the Japanese scouts began to attack the 
outposts. Probably the former had marched through- 
out the night, guided by the light of the full moon. 
The Austrahans broke camp hurriedly and rode to 
the east, partly with a view of outflanking the pur- 
suers and partly because they were afraid of being 
surrounded on the land side and driven back 
upon the inlet of the sea, if they made a stand in 
this unfavourable position. The country was not 
at all suitable for the full development of cavalry. 
It was flat, covered with thick jungle and permeated 
with a tortuous network of channels, mostly dried 
out, but forming veritable pitfalls among the dense 
vegetation. Apparently the Japanese had limited 
their pioneer efforts of civilization to the districts 
further west over the water, for there were no traces 
of settlement here. But that they had explored and 
charted this wilderness was evident from the rapidity 
with which their own forces moved. Moreover, they 
had pressed the local natives into service as guides. 
The aboriginals of the interior accompanying the 



RETREAT AND REINFORCEMENT 191 

White Guard were nearly as much at a loss in the coas- 
tal jungle as their masters. They were, however, 
ahead of the latter in their ability to make them- 
selves invisible during critical periods. This trait 
had been noticed from the first. Every time a 
battle waxed hot, they had vanished mysteriously, 
rej oining the volunteers when the air was clear again. 
During the whole course of the campaign, they 
had lost so far less than half a dozen of their number, 
which fact was the best proof of their sagacity in 
taking, care of themselves. The White Guard did 
not resent their caution. It had never been intended 
to make them fight for the cause of White Australia. 
That was the sacred privilege of the ruling race. 
The blacks were employed as hunters and scouts, 
and in this capacity they had proved serviceable 
and willing enough. When the first shots were ex- 
changed that morning (July 26) they had all stolen 
away quietly", and their prolonged disappearance 
was accepted as a sure sign that serious trouble 
with the enemy was brewing. 

The Australian van and right flank suffered 
heavily under the fire of Japanese marksmen con- 
cealed in the thick growth. After a ride of about 
two hours, the foremost squads came to a bare 
patch, a kind of spur of the high plains. Here they 
were charged by hostile cavalry. A fierce battle 
raged for half an hour until the aggressors, cut to 
pieces and much reduced in numbers, fled back. 
But the delay enabled Japanese infantry to concen- 
trate behind their gallant horsemen in such strength 
that the further progress of the White Guard was 
effectively barred. It turned north, towards the 
sea. Again the cavalry attacked, to gain time, 
so that the infantry might push on in that direction. 
Though decimated, the mounted Turanians had lost 
nothing of their energy. But the exasperated Austra- 



192 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

lians were now determined to make an end of them, 
regardless of cost. After a terrible struggle they 
succeeded. The Japanese cavalry was annihilated 
and all its surviving horses captured. Neverthe- 
less, the purpose for which it had sacrificed itself, 
had been attained. Long lines of infantry hemmed 
in the van and both flanks of the White Guard. 

At last, the genius of the invading race had in- 
vented a method of counteracting the superior 
mobihty of the raiders. It consisted in the employ- 
ment of thin files of infantry, no longer stationary, 
but hurling themselves against the horsemen, tak- 
ing advantage of every tree and rock for cover, 
yet ever advancing and followed by other files like 
successive waves of destruction. Horsemen had 
no chance against such rushes. They could not 
override them. They might fling them aside, only 
to be confronted by the second and third lines, 
while the first one, which had been broken through, 
would re-form and pour a deadly fire into the rear of 
the advancing cavalry. 

This method was tried for the first time on this 
occasion with very satisfactory results. Before 
order had been restored fully in the ranks of the 
White Guard after the cavalry contest, an infantry 
rush occurred. It increased the confusion, and after 
a short stand the Australians were repulsed. Some 
daring scouts of the enemy had got into the rear 
already. About eleven o'clock the squads of the 
extreme western flank touched the inlet again and had 
another glimpse of the capital. In the blinding noon 
glare of the sun the impression was no longer peaceful. 
Even as they looked, troops were hurrying over the 
cleared cultivation paddocks, no doubt sent to help 
in the work of destruction. The fort, in its in- 
accessibility, seemed to represent the embodiment 
of the deep Oriental disdain against the Whites 



RETREAT AND REINFORCEMENT 193 

whose Star Cross was to pale in the Northern Terri- 
tory before the victorious rays of the Rising Sun. 

The position of the Austrahans was desperate. 
Behind them the river ; to the east, and bending 
north and south, superior hostile forces. Every- 
thing had remained quiet so far to the south-west, 
but this silence was really disquieting, because the 
connexion between the Japanese headquarters and 
their eastern army lay across that line, and it was 
natural, therefore, to assume that strong reserves 
were massed in that neighbourhood. McPartoch 
held a hurried consultation with his lieutenants, in 
which it was decided to strike out straight to the 
south, in the hope that the enemy might be compelled 
to disclose his plans more fully by a diversion in this 
direction. 

Fortune favoured the White Guard. As it hap- 
pened, the Japanese had concentrated the bulk 
of their army in the east in their eagerness to 
block its progress. Their southern outposts, com- 
manding every opening in the jungle, every neck 
between creeks, had thus been denuded tempor- 
arily of defenders. When the volunteers were 
falling back, the defect had been noticed and rein- 
forcements were despatched. But it was too late. 
The Australians, wheeling south with great rapidity, 
ousted their opponents in a series of magnificent 
charges. To delay them, the last remnant of 
cavalry at hand was thrown against them. But 
they had learnt from their experience of the morning. 
They wasted no more precious time in a pitched 
battle. Cutting a way through the cavalry and 
overriding the van of the infantry reinforcements 
before they were able to develop their new tactics, the 
White Guard at last escaped into the open. It con- 
tinued its ride all the afternoon, unpursued, and 
fixed camp for the night well out of the enemy's reach. 

A,C, N 



194 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

The death Ust of the battle was enormous. Two 
lieutenants, five sub-lieutenants, a surgeon, fourteen 
sergeants and sixty-eight men were missing. More- 
over, forty reserve-horses had been killed and some 
stores were lost with them. This latter calamity 
was relieved somewhat by the seizure of over sixty 
Japanese horses, which were mostly Australian-bred. 
There was irony in this. Commonwealth citizens 
had reared the stock, had realized a profit on it, 
and now it was employed to defeat their compa- 
triots. For without efficient cavalry, the enemy 
would hardly have been able to take the offensive 
against the White Guard. More stretchers were 
constructed for the transport of the badly wounded. 
Of the first batch, only two were still surviving. 
Eleven others were added that night. 

Burdened with this further impediment, the leaders 
were compelled to come to a clear understanding 
about the further course of the campaign. They con- 
ferred during the evening, and before sunrise next 
morning (July 27), they placed the results of their 
deliberations before a general council of war, which 
had been called together originally for the purpose 
of rearranging the decimated units and electing 
subordinates for the fallen officers. McPartoch, in 
another manly speech, pointed out the insurmount- 
able difficulties in their path. It could not be 
denied, he said, that the White Guard had been 
thrown upon the defensive owing to the overwhelm- 
ing numerical superiority of the invaders, and that 
it could not hope for victory under the circumstances. 
He regretted that it should have been his advice, in 
the last instance, which had persuaded them to carry 
through the desperate venture at a loss, so far, of al- 
most a third of their comrades. Here the brave fellows 
interrupted him with cheers and passed a resolution 
by acclamation, thanking him for his unselfish 



RETREAT AND REINFORCEMENT 195 

leadership and assuring him that he continued to 
possess their full confidence. His proposals were 
warmly debated. But in the end they were carried 
with practical unanimity. Retreat, as speedy as 
possible, to the base in Snowdrop Creek was de- 
termined on, so that the wounded might receive 
proper care. And a thorough consideration and 
final decision regarding future action was to be post- 
poned until after that. It was a touching attempt 
at self-delusion. For in his heart every man felt 
convinced that a handful of white fighters could 
not defeat the organization created by the enemy, 
though every one be a hero. Yet they tried to evade 
that last bitterness, the open acknowledgement of 
failure to each other, as long as there was a chance. 
The march was resumed. They were still within 
the danger zone, in the circle of outlying villages. 
One they passed before noon, but its inhabitants 
did not seem to take any notice of them. McPar- 
toch had decided to travel straight south to avoid 
the jungle with its rank vegetation, which would 
have delayed progress, and with its animal pests, 
which would have tormented the wounded. In the 
afternoon they skirted another village. They kept 
always to a rough track cleared by the enemy. 
Shortly before sunset they came to a waterhole in 
a depression, about twelve miles further on, and 
camped there for the night. It was by no means an 
ideal spot strategically, being surrounded on three 
sides by a wide sweep of hill country and on the fourth 
to the north, by a belt of thick scrub and patches 
of acacias which restricted the outlook. But the 
volunteers knew that the Japanese main force could 
not have kept pace with them on their retreat and 
they did not particularly fear attack from the iso- 
lated settlements, because according to all previous 
observations, these did not contain more than 



196 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

one hundred, or at most two hundred, men each. 
Of course, the usual watch was kept. 

But the White Guard had underrated the resources 
and tenacity of the enemy, who again took ad- 
vantage of the moonhght to creep up to its position. 
This time the Japanese scouts penetrated silently 
the line of outposts and with the dawn, a furious 
infantry assault was directed against the two most 
exposed sub-camps of the Austrahans. Fortun- 
ately, some confusion ensued among the enemy in the 
dim light. His own scouts shot upon mounted rein- 
forcements hurrying to their help, apparently tak- 
ing them for the withdrawing volunteer outposts 
whom they had passed under the cover of the scrub. 
Thus the occupants of the sub-camps were enabled 
to escape, leaving tents, blankets and other belong- 
ings behind them. These were secured, however, 
in a successful counter-attack immediately after- 
wards. Day had now broken fully and revealed 
a large force of Japanese infantry approaching from 
the high ground to the west. Already they were 
forming the long thin files preparatory to one of their 
characteristic rushes. McPartoch had just time 
to sound the signal for retreat, when the first line 
hurled itself against the AustraHans, coiling about 
their flanks like a poisonous breath before which men 
and animals staggered and fell. The rear of the 
White Guard resisted for a moment, then followed the 
others in headlong flight eastwards. They were 
pursued by cavalry. 

For an hour the volunteers rode on without lessen- 
ing their speed appreciably. And still the Japanese 
horsemen doggedly stuck to them. Their pre- 
sence was a disagreeable surprise to the AustraHans, 
who had flattered themselves that they had extermin- 
ated the mounted service of the enemy, and who were 
now running away from an inferior number of that 



RETREAT AND REINFORCEMENT 197 

arm. McPartoch had to yield at last to their 
entreaties to make a stand. The rear faced round. 
But the shock of the outset proved too much for it. 
It had to give way, and the hostile cavalry, still about 
150 strong, fell upon the centre of the White Guard, 
commanded by McPartoch in person. Here the 
advance was arrested. The Japanese, surrounded, 
were shot down in numbers. The survivors, how- 
ever, never wavered. Their leader, a man on a splen- 
did horse, gave them a wonderful example of heroism. 
Riding into the thick of the fight, he brought down 
man after man, seemingly invulnerable himself. 
He came within ten yards of the Commander-in- 
Chief when suddenly a member of the Port Darwin 
contingent cried out : " Ah Ting ! " At the ex- 
clamation, the Japanese leader half turned, and 
found himself face to face with McPartoch. Two 
pistols were levelled at the same moment, two shots 
rang out in one. Ah Ting threw up his arms and 
fell to the ground, dead. McPartoch's mare 
staggered and broke down, throwing her rider. 
Some men ran to his assistance and lifted him on 
to Ah Ting's horse. The fall of the leader decided 
the fate of the Japanese, hemmed in on all sides. 
They perished manfully. 

The contest had reduced the number of the White 
Guard to about four hundred, counting in the 
badly wounded. To make matters worse, McPartoch 
was half-dazed in consequence of his accident. He 
surrendered the command to Thomas Burt until he 
should have fully recovered. Under the pressure of 
their misfortune, the volunteers did not have leisure 
to ponder over the fact that such a large force, 
independent of the main army of the enemy, should 
have been away in the open country. If they 
could have done so, the truth might have dawned 
upon them, and thus warned, their ultimate fate 



198 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

might have been different. For it is most likely 
that this force had been despatched, even be- 
fore the rout of the White Guard near the capital, 
with a view to cut off its retreat. Of course, the 
truth will never be known until the Japanese 
choose to pubhsh it. But appearances seem to show 
that they made this attempt thus early, the repetition 
of which was to be so terribly successful afterwards. 
Ah Ting, no doubt, had been entrusted with the 
execution of the task. He failed because the 
Australians retreated too quickly. And rather 
than return a beaten man, he sought death. It is 
impossible to explain in any other way his fool- 
hardy pursuit of a superior number of superior horse- 
men. 

Next day (July 30) the White Guard passed the 
southernmost village, where the parting shots of 
the campaign were exchanged. It was noticed 
that the telegraph hues had been repaired already. 
On the following evening (July 31) the AustraHans 
camped again upon the old spot at the head of 
Liverpool River. They spent a day there recovering 
vigour after their exertions and afterwards continued 
their retreat to the base in Snowdrop Creek, arriv- 
ing on August 2. The seven badly wounded 
comrades who still survived were then removed 
with infinite care to Katherine and distributed among 
trusted friends. So well was the secret kept that 
the Imperial authorities at Port Darwin remained in 
ignorance of these happenings. But perhaps they 
did not wish to know anything. 

A general council of war held in Snowdrop Creek 
decided that it would be madness to renew the fight. 
The only question under dispute was the manner 
in which the White Guard should be disbanded. 
Some adventurous members proposed that they 
should all return to Queensland by the route over 



RETREAT AND REINFORCEMENT 199 

which they had come. They had no doubt that re- 
ports of the campaign had transpired in Palmerston, 
and they were afraid of arrest if they should place 
themselves within reach of the British commander in 
that port. The overwhelming majority, however, 
justly dreaded the overland march mainly because 
the dry season was now far advanced. In the end, 
all agreed to send a deputation to Port Darwin to 
investigate the real state of affairs there and to ar- 
range, if possible, for a quiet refuge and gradual 
absorption of the volunteers in that district, whence 
they might disperse by sea by and by. 

Meanwhile the White Guard remained at Snow- 
drop Creek to await the result of the mission. And 
during this period an event occurred which changed 
the destiny of the corps. Quite unexpectedly, rein- 
forcements from Queensland arrived at Katherine 
(August 7) and, in due course, were directed to the 
camp. The new-comers were in a pitiable state, 
having traversed the same overland route, conducted 
by aboriginals. They had lost thirty-two men on 
the march. According to their statements, the defi- 
ciency of water in the Interior precluded absolutely 
all further help by land until the end of the year. 
But they did not mention this to discourage the 
others. On the contrary, as soon as they had 
refreshed themselves by a few days' rest, they 
declared themselves quite ready for action. The 
relief force was certainly a fine body of men. It 
numbered 564 members, with 200 reserve horses and 
a vast quantity of stores. Cosmopolitan elements 
had entered into its composition to a much larger 
extent than in the case of the first corps. For before 
the date of its departure (July 16) from Bourketown 
there had been time to get to North Queensland for 
adventurers from all the states who objected to 
the drudgery of regular drill and were yet too 



200 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

patriotic to shirk the duty of defence. In addition 
there were over a hundred Canadians and Americans 
from the Western Slopes. 

The views of the old campaigners — the heroes of 
the first campaign — were strongly modified by the 
fresh development. The optimists among them were 
inclined to bury the remembrance of the terrible 
experience of the recent past under a hope of 
revenge, now that the losses had not only been 
made good but the original fighting strength had 
been increased by one-half. Others, more cautious, 
pleaded that the Japanese had gained an intimate 
knowledge of Australian tactics and would be 
able, therefore, to meet all efforts with even deadlier 
effect than in the opening struggle. These warners 
reminded their comrades that the enemy thought 
nothing of sacrificing the life of his own warriors. 
They doubted if even the united white forces would 
be sufficient to expel or to exterminate the invaders. 
Anything less would not be worth the risk of so 
many lives valuable to the Commonwealth. Was 
it not better to wash their hands of a hopeless affair 
and to save themselves for another battle some day, 
in the regular army of Australia, where their experi- 
ence would be of the highest importance ? 

But the reinforcements wanted war. Their 
leader offered to serve under McPartoch. They could 
certainly make out a good case. Having come all 
this way, they claimed the right to be given a show. 
It seemed unfair to desert them. No description of 
Japanese methods and the hardships of a campaign 
could cool their ardour. They still believed fondly 
in the immense superiority of their own race. Their 
point was that if the enemy had gained knowledge, 
so had the Australians, and that the imperfections 
natural to a first effort need not be repeated. 

These remonstrances were not wasted. Yet more 



RETREAT AND REINFORCEMENT 201 

than by anything else the old campaigners were 
influenced by a singular circumstance. The mis- 
sion returned from Port Darwin to camp on August 
14. It brought all the news of the anti-colour and 
election riots, from which one fact could be gathered 
plainly — that no support could be expected from 
the Federal authorities, whose energies were ab- 
sorbed fully by civic disruption in the centres of 
population. But the mission had to tell of some- 
thing much stranger. Nothing at all was known 
in Port Darwin of the doings of the White Guard. 
Its sympathizers, indeed, had become quite anxious 
about it. Was it loafing ? Had it no courage to 
come to blows ? These were the questions which 
assailed the members of the deputation, whose re- 
plies were received with incredulity. There could 
be no doubt that the Japanese had been absolutely 
silent on the subject, that they had lodged neither 
protests nor appeals. It seemed^that they regarded 
the White Guard with calm contempt and officially 
ignored its existence. 

No intelligence ever caused a more profound sen- 
sation or more violent indignation. With feelings 
akin to consternation the heroes of the first campaign 
asked one another what might be the policy of Japan 
that it did not seize the opportunity to condemn 
publicly a raid of irregulars which could not have cost 
it less than a thousand lives. It drove the blood 
from the heart of the brave men who had fought 
so hard and borne so much, to contemplate how 
their exertions were stifled in studied silence. Were 
they of so httle importance ? So they had not made 
themselves dreaded enough ? Had all the sacrifices, 
the deeds of mates now dead and rotting in the in- 
terminable bush no worse effect on the enemy than 
so many flea-bites, scratched casually and dismissed 
from memory ? Ah, they had not done yet ! The 



203 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

brown horror would yet squeal at the top of its 
voice for protection against the intrepid sons of Aus- 
tralia ! The lofty disdain displayed by the Japanese 
so incensed the old campaigners that the resentment 
practically decided the issue. A vote taken ex- 
clusively among them, which every man bound him- 
self beforehand to stand by, resulted in favour of a 
second campaign by a twelve to one majority. 

Although the leader of the reinforcements. — a 
Canadian named Grimpan — had announced his 
willingness to serve under McPartoch, he objected to 
being reduced to mere lieutenant, while others pre- 
viously under his command were elevated to the 
same level. A regrettable element of j ealousy, foreign 
to the old campaigners, was thus introduced. The 
matter was compromised by forming two companies 
of 150 men each, with five sub-lieutenants, and by 
appointing the Canadian to the command of one of 
these. It was also arranged that the supreme leader- 
ship should revert to him in the event of McPartoch 
being killed or disabled. All the old campaigners 
regarded the second concession as an affront, for 
they looked upon Thomas Burt as the rightful heir- 
presumptive to the honour, as his stewardship during 
the last stage of his retreat had won their entire 
confidence. For the moment the settlement was 
accepted, but the slight rankled nevertheless. 

The command of the other increased company 
was entrusted to Thomas Burt, who again received 
that most responsible office, the commissariat. 
He would have preferred a place in the fighting 
line, but he bowed to the pleading of McPartoch, 
who knew only too well that the very existence 
of the White Guard depended on the safety of the 
stores and particularly the horses, and that it was 
to be feared just for this reason that the Japanese 
would try to gain possession of or to destroy 



RETREAT AND REINFORCEMENT 203 

them. In the commissariat was also vested 
the supervision of the aboriginals. The old band 
seemed to have sustained some loss, after all, in 
the final stage ; about a fourth of their number 
was missing. Now the blacks brought by the 
reinforcements were added. The total, then, 
amounted to about eighty. On the whole, the 
second instalment was not up to the former level. 
It had not been treated with so much consider- 
ation by its masters, and sulked rather. A close 
watch was very necessary. 

Among the old campaigners there were several of 
the lighter wounded who had not quite recovered. 
Some of them were, for the purpose of war, no better 
than cripples. Yet they craved permission to share 
in the new venture. But McPartoch would have 
none of them. He even refused to move while they 
were present. So these brave fellows, twenty-three 
altogether, had to return to Katherine, thence to 
Port Darwin and civilization. To one of them 
Thomas Burt entrusted his diary — all that is left of it. 
And this foresight has preserved to white humanity 
the only strictly contemporary record of the first 
campaign of the White Guard — one of the most 
unselfish and tragic sacrifices of all times. 



CHAPTER V 

THE SECOND CAMPAIGN 

OF the second campaign, no well-ordered written 
record of an eye-witness exists, nothing indeed, 
at all comparable to Thomas Burt's diary. That able 
patriot perished in the unknown. Some survivors 
have given their versions of different phases of the 
disastrous enterprise, though not always quite as 
lucidly as could be wished, and their reports have 
been pieced together as well as possible in this 
account, which therefore cannot be regarded as 
absolutely correct in every detail. Even the dates 
cannot be ascertained exactly. It is known, how- 
ever, that the White Guard left the base in Snow- 
drop Creek on August 17, 1912. 

The volunteers then numbered about goo men, 
with 250 reserve horses, and were accompanied by 
80 aboriginals. Two companies, led by the Canadian 
Grimpan and by Thomas Burt, consisted of 150 men 
each. It seems that in every other particular the 
organization evolved and well tried during the first 
campaign was adhered to. The force reoccupied 
the camp at the head of Liverpool River for one 
night. There some surplus stores were hidden away. 
Two days later, in the early afternoon, it arrived 
once more in the neighbourhood of the southern- 
most Japanese village. A few settlers, working 
in the cultivation paddocks, were cut off and 

301 



THE SECOND CAMPAIGN 205 

killed. But though the enemy appeared to be 
surprised, he gave no chance. The vanguard, 
rushing forward in the hope of carrying the village 
before the inhabitants should have time to think 
of the defence, found itself exposed to a severe 
fire and had to retreat. No further attempt was 
made ; the main corps passed by at a safe distance, 
as if it was not thought worth while to risk lives in 
an attack upon a fortified outpost. 

If McPartoch had wished to convey this im- 
pression, of which there can be no doubt, his ruse 
proved successful for once. The Japanese seem to 
have allowed themselves to be inveigled into a false 
sense of security. They did not keep in touch with 
the White Guard, which, in reality, came to a stop 
only eight miles further on in a dense bush, awaiting 
the night. For it had been decided to assault the 
hostile position after dark. The idea was to employ 
fire as well as the sword against the invaders ; it is, 
indeed, already mentioned in Thomas Burt's diary. 
Then it came to nothing. But now more careful 
preparations had been made. A supply of kerosene 
and torches had been drawn from Port Darwin, and 
thus the execution of incendiary plans had become 
feasible. 

The moon, past the first quarter, facilitated the 
task. About 11 p.m. the village was surrounded by 
strong detachments. Apart from these, a storming 
party had been formed, consisting of fifty picked 
volunteers. At midnight, when the moon was 
sinking in the west, the charge was delivered. The 
Japanese sentries were on their guard. But 
making their accustomed rounds, they had all been 
marked and were shot down. Before the inhabi- 
tants, startled by the noise, had time to fly to arms, 
the ^formers jumped the low rampart, carrying 
light bags filled with dry twigs and grass and satur- 



2o6 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

ated with kerosene, which they piled against the 
walls of the nearest houses. In a moment the 
highly inflammable stuff blazed up. Among the 
settlers indescrible confusion reigned. Some dashed 
forward recklessly to fling the burning bundles aside, 
but they fell instantly under the massed volleys of a 
hundred crack shots. Within a few minutes, the sun- 
dried timber of the huts on the east side of the village 
was well alight and the inmates had to run for their 
lives, pursued by the bullets of the triumphant Aus- 
tralians, Their task was finished. They had now 
merely to look on while the fresh eastern breeze spread 
the flames to adjoining buildings and over the wooden 
defence works. Above the roar of the conflagration 
rose the frenzied cries of the victims, blinded by the 
glare and suffocated by the smoke, doomed to death 
within and without their perishing homes. As the 
assured success of their scheme of vengence calmed 
the wild excitement of the volunteers, they began 
to wonder why the Japanese did not try to escape. 
Suddenly somebody made a remark about the shout- 
ing. Next moment all the men about him found 
themselves listening attentively, all struck by one 
idea. They could now distinguish plainly above the 
throaty voices of men quite different treble shrieks 
of agony, as of women. The surviving inhabitants 
were by this time huddled together at the western 
extremity of the village. The flames, bursting 
through the clouds of smoke, threw a flickering light 
over the several groups working away desperately 
to clear a free zone which the fire should be 
unable to overleap. In their feverish haste, they 
exposed themselves recklessly within easy range of 
the Australian rifles. But an awful hush had fallen 
upon the volunteers. Hardly a shot was discharged 
now on their part. For in the uncertain illumination 
they had discerned, beside the well-known, squat 



THE SECOND CAMPAIGN 207 

shapes of their foemen, other more slender forms, 
some crouching in wild fear, others dashing about 
planlessly, rending the air with high-pitched yells. 
They were women. But how did they get there ? 
The question passed from mouth to mouth, sending 
a thrill of horror through the ranks of the White 
Guard. Never before had the old campaigners set 
eyes upon them, or known of their presence in the 
hostile camps. They began to understand why 
the Japanese had not made a bold bid for escape 
at the outset. It was because their womenfolk were 
too panic-stricken and they would not leave them 
behind. Now it was too late. The flames had leapt 
the break before it was complete. Among the 
doomed inhabitants a command was given in a 
clear, firm voice. There was a last appealing cry, 
cut short by a great volley. The slender forms 
dropped to the ground, dead. In a flash, the squat 
shapes jumped the rampart and threw themselves 
upon the aggressors. For a minute or two the rattle 
of pistols and revolvers was audible above the roar of 
the conflagration. Then the surrounding darkness 
of the bush swallowed the surviving Japanese. This 
finish cost the White Guard five lives, and as many 
were wounded. 

In the morning, one of the missing Australians 
was found in the bush, with only a slight hurt on 
his right arm, yet dead. A Japanese, twice shot 
through the chest, was clutching his throat with 
both hands ; the cold, stiff fingers nearly met in the 
flesh, so savage his grasp had been. No truer ex- 
pression could have been imagined of the mortal 
hatred which inspired the fighters of both races 
and of the grim determination of the Asiatics ; the 
members of the new contingent were deeply moved 
by the sight. 

Inspection of the ruined village, where the charred 



2o8 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

timber was still smouldering and a stench of burnt 
flesh filled the air, left no doubt that women had 
fallen victims. So many female bodies, disfigured 
by the blaze which had consumed their clothing, 
were discovered, that there was only one explanation 
for their presence ; they had been the wives of the 
settlers. The enjoyment of victory was spoiled 
completely by this untoward incident. All white 
instincts rebelled against the slaughter of women. 
And horrible as it was, the AustraHans could not 
banish the thought that it would happen again, 
unless they were to abandon the struggle. For 
if they wished to retain the offensive and to prevent 
the enemy from always choosing his own battle 
ground, they would have to strike at other settle- 
ments in the same way, regardless of the possibility 
that both sexes might dwell within. From a 
patriotic point of view the White Guard had even 
the right to welcome the terrible complication, be- 
cause it might divert the attention of the Japanese 
and loosen the bonds of discipline. No feelings of 
repugnance could absolve the Australians from the 
plain duty towards their country to exploit this tem- 
porary advantage. It might not last long. The 
enemy, who had fought well for the sake of the young 
colony and from race pride in the past, was sure to 
surpass himself in defence of the most sacred personal 
possession, as soon as he should have recovered from 
his initial surprise. The volunteers yearned for the 
clash of arms in the field. Unknowingly they had 
been made women-slayers. That stain would have 
to be washed out in more blood, the blood of men 
and foes. And thus the second campaign became 
from the outset what the refined savagery of the 
Japanese would have it as proved by their em- 
ployment of dum-dums in attack and females in 
defence : a merciless scramble for mastery as be- 



THE SECOND CAMPAIGN 209 

tween primeval beasts in the tropical wilderness 
which fitly surrounded them. 

The White Guard rode on unmolested all day. 
The next village had been deserted by the enemy and 
was burnt down. But while the Japanese kept out 
of sight, the aboriginals of the force began to create 
trouble. As usual, they had remained invisible 
during the night attack. Now it was noticeable that 
they kept much more to themselves than formerly. 
Their sulkiness, which since the arrival of the second 
band accompanying Grimpan's corps had become 
more and more pronounced, caused some anxiety. 
The blacks of the interior were not considered to be 
naturally treacherous, but of course they had their 
price. And if the Japanese should see their way to 
offer better terms, larger presents of tobacco, silver, 
arms, and especially liquor, than were in the gifts of 
the White Guard, then it was conceivable that the 
natives might be seduced from their present loyalty. 
There was, however, the reassuring thought that it 
would not be easy for the enemy to gain the confi- 
dence of the aboriginals. Of themselves, the latter 
would not dare to make advances. The only dan- 
ger was that the Japanese might use the coastal 
blacks for the purpose of establishing relations. 
But it was known that deadly enmity prevailed be- 
tween the tribes of the interior and those of the 
coast. When they met, the stronger, according to 
all precedent, would make a meal off the weaker. 
Where such customs ruled, it was difficult to imagine 
where the chance of peaceful dealings could come 
in. With this consideration the Australians silenced 
their secret misgivings. For the natives had proved 
so useful in many respects that they did not view 
with equanimity the prospect of dispensing with their 
services. It seemed, however, that the blacks, 
with the instinct of primitive beings, felt the dis- 

A.C. O 



210 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

trust with which they were regarded. Perhaps it 
was in consequence of this that their morosity 
increased steadily. Some of the boldest even ven- 
tured to complain that morning that their horses 
were no good, and to ask McPartoch that they 
should have the pick of the reserve horses. Need- 
less to say, they did not get their will. 

At night a council of war was held. The more 
optimistic new members looked upon the fact that 
the enemy had abandoned one village as proof of his 
unpreparedness and surprise at the return of the White 
Guard. Accordingly, they recommended a rapid at- 
tack upon his capital. Though the old campaigners 
were less enthusiastic, they were not impervious to 
the pleadings of their inexperienced friends. If the 
Japanese headquarters should also be encumbered 
with womenfolk, as was probable, then the chances 
might not be so bad. After all, dash and daring 
was the life-blood of the hazardous enterprise. It 
was resolved to face the risks by attempting a 
night attack, or a day and night attack combined, 
against the capital. The fate of the White Guard 
was to be staked upon one throw of the dice. That, 
according to common report, was the project, the 
deliberate aim, the hope of the Australian leaders. 
Its boldness shows that the infusion of fresh blood 
had brought about a resurrection of high spirits. 
Or perhaps, as far as the old campaigners were con- 
cerned, the stage of mental depression, under the 
stimulating influence of the latest horrors, had been 
finally superseded by ferocious exultation. 

About noon on the following day the vanguard 
approached another village. It was found to be 
strongly occcupied. Moreover, a large detachment 
of the enemy had transformed a rocky ridge to 
the west of it into a fortification. McPartoch, 
foreseeing a pitched battle, gave orders to ignore 



THE SECOND CAMPAIGN 211 

the Japanese by passing to the east of the settle- 
ment. But the reinforcements, and even many 
of his old men, entreated him to attack the position. 
They proposed to repeat the strategy of incendiarism 
after nightfall and to make this possible, the enemy 
outside had to be dislodged first. He granted 
their request reluctantly and at 2 p.m. an action 
was begun. Progress was slow and its successful 
culmination was spoilt by a furious sally of the 
villagers, which rolled back the eastern enveloping 
lines and allowed the Japanese field force to slip 
through the opening into the settlement. This, 
too, was evacuated later in the evening and all the 
occupants got away. Ruddy flames, soon after- 
wards, informed them of the fate of their recent 
homesteads. 

The White Guard pursued in the moonlight with- 
out much success. Four camps were formed at last, 
and, as usual, a full third of the force was put on 
watch service. Nevertheless, just before dawn some 
Japanese infantry managed to penetrate into the 
northernmost sub-camp, which was occupied by men 
of the reinforcements. A panic broke out among 
these and several were killed or wounded before 
relief arrived, and exterminated the aggressors. 
It was a most unfortunate affair, especially in its 
consequences. 

For three men had been so badly hurt that they 
were unable to ride. Transport by stretcher was 
out of the question. The Australians could not 
storm the capital of the enemy and guard a hospi- 
tal at the same time. That was so evident that the 
men, agreeing that the former should be attempted, 
had come to an understanding during the same 
council of war that the helpless wounded should 
kill themselves. As cases were conceivable where 
the energy of the doomed might not be equal to 



212 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

his duty, all the comrades of each squad had 
bound themselves that in such an extremity one of 
them should administer the coup de grace. It was 
terrible, yet necessary. Death was the only manly 
way out. For such was the loathing of the coloured 
aliens that no member of the White Guard would 
have accepted mercy from their hands, even 
if it had been proffered. Nor would he allow his 
friends to do so. A sense of rough justice, perhaps, 
had also something to do with this determination ; 
white men were too proud to accept from the enemy 
what they would not have granted him in return. 
And a lingering end in the wilderness, by starvation 
or vermin, was too cruel for contemplation. Two 
of the badly wounded were firm enough to shape 
their own destiny. But the third one faltered 
on the brink. He was shot through the right lung, 
near the heart, and could not possibly live. So a 
friend, drawn by lot from his squad, rendered him 
the merciful service which, in saner moments, he 
would not have refused to a comrade in his own 
hopeless condition. It was the first time that the 
stern measure had to be resorted to, and though 
the men had adopted the rule voluntarily and knew 
what it might mean to every one of them, its 
translation into reaUty had a depressing effect on 
all. 

The advance was resumed. Again it was after- 
noon before the enemy was encountered. He was 
in great strength, at the edge of the jungle country, 
and employed new tactics. The country was very 
broken ; gullies and ridges alternated. His infan- 
try formed long, thin lines as usual, but they were 
stationary. The rushes were left to small detach- 
ments of cavalry, which, sweeping forward from a 
fold in the ground where they had been hidden, drove 
back the Australian scouts upon the main body, 



THE SECOND CAMPAIGN 213 

and then returned to shelter while the pursuit of 
the volunteers was stopped by the terrific fire of the 
infantry, which, moreover, drew its file steadily 
longer, enveloping the flanks of the White Guard. 
After a desultory fight of about on hour, the Aus- 
tralians, retreating somewhat, succeeding in luring 
the hostile cavalry further into the open and in- 
flicted severe punishment upon it. A little later 
their scouts on the western wing outflanked the 
Japanese files and rolled them back. Shortly 
before sunset the enemy began to retreat in good 
order into the protective jungle. 

Some Australians had concentrated their fire during 
the final struggle upon a diminutive cairn on a 
ridge, the defence of which had been well sustained. 
As they did not notice anybody leaving this shel- 
tered spot in the general retreat, their curiosity 
was aroused. They crept up cautiously and their 
suspicion that the occupants had remained in pos- 
session was quickly verified by several volleys, 
resulting in the death of two comrades. About 
twenty Japanese issued from the neighbourhood of the 
cairn, running hard to escape. Finding themselves 
outmatched by the horsemen, a few returned to it 
and resisted stoutly every attempt to dislodge them. 
But the Austrahans were the better marksmen, and 
soon the last defender had fallen. Their pains were 
rewarded by a most important discovery. The 
cairn, which a short distance off looked like a natural 
feature of the country, was artificial and served 
as rampart of a circular cavity staved and planked 
with boards. On the floor were several sleeping 
places, and telegraphic apparatus was mounted on 
a rough table against the wall. From there a cable 
was laid along the ground, hidden in the rubble, 
for over a mile to a large tree on the slope. The wire 
ascended its stem and was thus continued overhead. 



214 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

The whole cunning contrivance made it most unhkely 
that the subterranean station should be found even 
by an unusually persistent white man who might have 
followed the wire and even traced the cable. There 
being no indication of its termination so near at 
hand, he would very probably get tired long before he 
reached the cairn. Thus accidentally these volun- 
teers had stumbled upon the true explanation of the 
marvellous accuracy of Japanese information. For 
such pits, in telegraphic connexion with the nearest 
village or directly with headquarters, might — and 
undoubtedly did — exist all over the zone of 
settlement, and from them an incessant watch 
could be kept on every movement of the White 
Guard, which, though perhaps passing within close 
range, would not be aware of prying eyes. 

The enemy fell back, undefeated, his cavalry 
guarding the rear and keeping in touch with the 
Australians, who camped on the battlefield, where, 
in a gully, a plentiful supply of fresh water had 
been discovered. Each company formed a separate 
camp, the two largest in the centre, and three on 
each side. The Japanese being so near, McPartoch 
expected a troubled night. Exactly for this 
reason he had stopped the march early. While 
the full moon shone brightly, his sentries could be 
trusted to ward off the prowling scouts of the enemy. 
In the small hours before the dawn, it might become 
necessary to have every man under arms. Rest 
for men and horses had to be snatched while it could 
be had. 

McPartoch's fears were more than realized. About 
3 a.m. fierce skirmishing began all along the lines 
of the furthest outposts. Through the dim light 
diffused by the moon, now low on the western hori- 
zon, lithe forms wriggled from cover to cover among 
the dark patches of thick scrub, a thousand times 



THE SECOND CAMPAIGN 215 

more deadly and hateful than reptiles. Steadily 
they moved forward against the white men, who 
had to gather in groups of two or three and to 
change places continually for protection. Not many 
years ago, comfortable Australians at cosy breakfast 
tables had been delightfully thrilled by stirring 
descriptions in the morning press of the patriotic 
daring of the little brown men, who in white Man- 
churian winter nights glided snakehke behind big 
lumbering Russian sentries and, jumping on their 
backs, slit open their throats or strangled them in 
noiseless death embrace. Perhaps none of the 
interested readers had thought for a moment that 
one day in the near future Australia's best and 
most unselfish sons would be exposed to all the 
horrors of this applauded artfulness. Now and 
then flames leapt out of some thicket, fol- 
lowed by rattling reports. Then there was the 
trampling of hoofs or a heavy fall. Silence after- 
wards, or as often, the guttural call, in the plaintive 
note of the wild swan's cry, of some Australian 
crouching behind the carcase of his horse and sig- 
nalling for help. On the other side, the shrill whistle 
of the lucky Japanese marksman was heard, appeal- 
ing to his mates to back him up so that his work 
might be finished thoroughly. A reckless abandon 
was over this nocturnal carnage. Life counted as 
nothing on both sides. Each fighter was like a 
tiger at bay, contemptuous of bullets, intent, with 
bared claws, on his chance of a murderous bound. 
Slowly the white scouts were driven back. After 
two hours they had suffered so heavily that the 
camps had to be alarmed. McPartoch gave orders 
not to prolong the skirmishing, and led his force 
into the jungle to the north before daylight. And 
the enemy was soon outdistanced 

Very early that morning some scouts on the 



2i6 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

extreme western wing made a strange discovery. 
They had a glimpse of a strong Japanese detach- 
ment on the march. But it did not proceed north, 
as might have been expected, while the White Guard 
was threatening the capital so closely, but actu- 
ually hurried south as fast as due precaution against 
possible surprise permitted. Cavalry covered its 
advance. Apparently, McPartoch and his sub- 
leaders did not attach much importance to the 
reports. Perhaps they thought that it was 
a belated rehef corps. At any rate, they refused 
to turn out of their way in pursuit of this isolated 
detachment and thus to waste time. Nevertheless 
the singular fact was talked about a good deal, as 
the survivors testify. Considered retrospectively, 
it throws a flood of hght on subsequent events which 
have never been explained fully. 

The Commander-in-Chief had really no leisure for 
abstract speculations on the meaning of some par- 
ticular hostile move. He was kept busy attending 
to immediate difficulties. During the night skir- 
mish, several coastal blacks, who had actively en- 
gaged in it on the side of their Japanese masters, 
had been killed. They, at least, had not vanished 
from the danger zone as was the habit of the natives 
of the interior, who were nowhere to be seen, as 
usual. But it seemed that the latter had been 
audible. Several Australians stated that they had 
heard a call peculiar to the loyal aboriginals, which 
had not been included in the signal code of the 
White Guard, and which, moreover, the coastal 
blacks had never been known to employ. This might 
mean that the loyal natives had merely warned each 
other. On the other hand, it might mean that they 
had been bought over. At any rate, on former 
occasions they had either not hovered round the 
battlefield or they had at least remained silent. 



THE SECOND CAMPAIGN 217 

for nobody had heard their call before under simi- 
lar circumstances. The change of habit aroused 
the latent suspicions anew. Had they turned spies ? 
No doubt the Japanese could oifer better induce- 
ments. The only question was whether they had 
succeeded in establishing relations. But perhaps 
the blacks had met half-way. Even a black might 
see, as somebody remarked bitterly, that the White 
Guard was playing a losing game. 

During the first hours of the march, and after- 
wards while the AustraHan had a hasty, belated 
breakfast near a small pond on the foot of a hill — 
for they had now entered the jungle country where 
water was met with throughout the year — a good 
many natives rejoined the force. They kept apart, 
however, showing pretty clearly that their temper 
had not improved much. Some were smoking. 
This was certainly uncommon, as the last dole of 
tobacco had been handed out to them more than 
twenty-four hours ago. Natives do not hoard their 
possessions in this way as a rule. One of the 
whites, struck by an idea, went up and managed 
to get a piece of tobacco from them. On comparison 
it was found to be different from any brand in the 
Australian stores. The blacks were examined, 
but they sheltered behind the sulkiness affected by 
them ever since the opening of the second cam- 
paign, and no explanation was coming forth. 
This untimely obstinacy settled their fate. 
Such subsidiaries could be tolerated no longer. 
They might make away at any moment with the 
horses they were riding, or they might even steal 
more horses. A few volunteers, remembering 
their good services in the past, advocated simple 
dismissal. But it was too risky to let these cunning 
aboriginals go forth as open foes ; they knew too 
much of the organization and resources of the White 



2i8 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

Guard. Some sterner Australians, who had been 
through the war in South Africa, remembered how 
the Boers used to deal with Kaffir boys who had 
become dangerous or superfluous. Necessity de- 
manded a similar course. The unfortunate blacks, 
whose horses had been watched closely during 
the discussion, were suddenly surrounded and shot 
down. And like punishment was meted out to 
every absconder who returned later. 

After this act of red-handed justice, a roll-call 
was held, which revealed that the losses in battle 
had reduced the White Guard to 753 men. Though 
the percentage was enormous, it compared very 
favourably with the death-rate during the first 
campaign and the old hands were accordingly elated. 
Before the count-out had been finished, there came 
from the north, very faintly, yet very unmistak- 
ably, the sound of a steamer's siren. The effect 
was electric. The sea had wafted greetings to 
them on the breeze. It was near, the goal was at 
hand. All minds turned to the great task immedi- 
ately before them. Every one agreed that the signal 
must have proceeded from a vessel in the inlet, pro- 
bably a Japanese steamer, and that they were at 
most a dozen miles inland. If the Australians wished 
so, the decision must fall that night. And many 
powerful reasons urged them to strike the 
supreme blow at once. Behind them, large, 
unbeaten forces of the enemy were massed. But 
these had been outdistanced and were therefore 
useless for the defence of the capital. The slightest 
hesitation would give them a chance to come up, 
and then the outlook for the White Guard, caught 
between two fires, would be black indeed. It was 
true that failure of the attack would probably mean 
extinction, for in that case the White Guard, de- 
feated and demoralized, would be driven right back 



THE SECOND CAMPAIGN 219 

upon the army in its rear. That terrible alter- 
native, however, could not be evaded by Fabian 
tactics. The only way to escape from it was by a 
rapid diversion either to the east or west, in both 
of which directions the enemy did not seem to be 
in great strength yet. Instant advance or instant 
diversion — that was the real question before the 
volunteers. And there were not wanting voices 
who recommended the latter. A calm survey 
of the position could, indeed, only lead to one 
conclusion : that the odds against the success of a 
direct assault upon the Japanese headquarters were 
too tremendous to be faced. But the overwhelm- 
ing majority regarded the suggestion to turn aside 
within sight of the goal as nothing less than disloyalty 
against the fallen comrades whose self-sacrifice 
had enabled the sur\'ivors to penetrate thus far. 
The worst that could befaU them was to die as 
those heroes had died. To the everlasting glory of 
Australia, its \\'hite Guard scorned the counsels of 
cowardice at this frightful crisis and decided that 
the only alternative before it was Victory or Death. 

The volunteers made ever\'' preparation during 
this halt. Two companies were appointed storming 
parties and two more for each of these were told off 
as special support, while the remaining two largest 
companies, under Grimpan and Thomas Burt, were 
to form the reserve under the direct command of 
McPartoch. Every stormer received two bags filled 
with dr>^ twigs and grass, two tins of kerosene about 
half full, and a dozen torches. The surplus horses 
and stores were divided equally among the six com- 
panies, barring the storm parties. It was past mid- 
day when the march was resumed. 

Of the great assault no detailed description can 
be rendered with any claim to accuracy. None of 
the survivors have been able to give more than a med- 



220 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

ley of personal recollections confined within narrow 
limits, owing to the fact that the main action was 
fought in the night and extended over a wide stretch 
of country. The White Guard followed a rough 
road leading straight north. Its advance was slow, 
with a very broad front, for scouts were pushed out 
for miles east and west on either wing. About 3 p.m. 
Japanese infantry contested further progress, but 
the Australians burst through its lines in a splen- 
did dash. At sunset they reached the border of the 
jungle, within two miles of the capital, the buildings 
of which, dominated by the fort, could be discerned 
plainly across the cultivation paddocks. They re- 
mained under cover until it had grown quite dark. 
Then the scouts pushed forward : they were met by 
outposts of the enemy and the battle waxed fierce at 
once. The Japanese had drawn several lines of 
barbed wire across the paddocks, about a foot from 
the ground. These had to be cut, in spite of swarm- 
ing multitudes of the brown men, before a general 
attack was possible. A company dismounted and 
went to the assistance of the scouts. Fighting with 
the courage of despair, they gained their end under 
terrible hardships and losses. By 9 p.m. the remnants 
were right in front of the rampart of the south-eastern 
quarter ; a passage had been cleared for the storming 
parties. Just as the moon rose these advanced at 
a terrific pace. But a determined sally from the 
south-eastern quarter drove them back. For an 
hour the wildest struggle raged round that locality. 
For the AustraUans wanted to set fire to the settle- 
ment at the eastern end, whence the breeze would 
spread the flames. Again and again they tried, and 
always without success. The defenders of the west- 
em quarters left their fortifications in large numbers 
and pressed upon the flank of the White Guard. 
At last three companies had to turn against them to 



THE SECOND CAMPAIGN 221 

stop the enveloping movement. The western Japan- 
ese Hnes were broken and hurled back. Close be- 
hind them, and mixing with their rear, poured the 
aggressive volunteers, and among them a number 
of stormers. These, seizing the opportunity, pene- 
trated into the eastern comer of the south-western 
settlement, piled their bags against the nearest 
buildings, and applied matches. Before the enemy 
was well aware of it the conflagration had made 
good headway. Every attempt to extinguish it 
failed. As the flames towered up, cheer after cheer 
rose from the decimated ranks of the White Guard. 
With renewed ardour the men returned to the attack 
upon the south-eastern quarter. But the enemy, 
recognizing the impossibility of saving the burning 
section, hastily withdrew the troops from there and 
used them for the defence of the other threatened 
position. At the same time the infantry, which had 
been scattered in the afternoon, opened fire upon the 
Australian reserve from the jungle. Front, flanks 
and rear of the White Guard were assailed simul- 
taneously by overwhelming Japanese forces. It 
did no longer fight for victory, but for life. About 
midnight McPartoch gave the signal for retreat. 
By the light of the moon and the reflections of 
the conflagration, now at its height, the survivors 
cut their way through the opposing hordes. The 
supreme effort had been defeated. 

The enemy did not pursue closely. Mutual ex- 
haustion had the effect of a short truce. A few 
miles away in the jungle the Australians gathered 
once more. They snatched a short rest before dawn, 
and continued their retreat at sunrise. Their posi- 
tion was truly hopeless. They did not number over 
four hundred. All the leaders, with the exception 
of McPartoch, Thomas Burt and Grimpan, were 
missing. As the death of half the sub-lieutenants 



222 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

and sergeants had broken up the organization com- 
pletely, and as there was no time to restore order, 
these three divided the command — Thomas Burt 
led the van, McPartoch the centre, Grimpan the rear. 
For about two hours the White Guard rode on swiftly. 
Only the most necessary scouting was done. Every- 
body knew that the Japanese forces, which had been 
outdistanced during the three previous days, would 
be encountered again. The one chance of the volun- 
teers lay in their speed, which might yet carry 
them through the hostile lines, before the enemy to 
the south had been fully informed of the events of 
the night and had perfected his plans for the annihi- 
lation of the fugitives. 

About 10 a.m. the first shots were exchanged. 
The Australian vanguard immediately headed off 
to the west, as had been arranged between the leaders. 
But it was subjected to a furious fire and fought to a 
standstill. Meanwhile, the centre, under the intre- 
pid McPartoch, threw itself right forward and was 
soon at close quarters with Japanese infantry, the 
foremost lines of which it scattered. Already 
McPartoch had given the signal for the other divi- 
sions to follow him through the opening, when he 
noticed that some ot the scouts broke down with 
their horses, while others parried theirs and turned 
back. The animals had become entangled in coils 
of twisted barbed wire, which had been hidden in the 
long dry grass. A httle further on several lines of 
wire were stretched from tree to tree one above the 
other, thus forming an insurmountable obstacle, 
behind which the enemy lay in wait. And away to 
the north signals could be heard more and more 
plainly, leaving no doubt that the garrison of the 
capital had started in hot pursuit. 

A New South Wales man, named Terry, who had 
been wounded in the night and was half dead from 



THE SECOND CAMPAIGN 223 

loss of blood, here sacrificed himself to save his 
comrades. Urging his horse forward at a terrible 
pace, he burst right through the iron fence. Man 
and horse tumbled to the ground on the far side, cut 
to the bones by the wires. But the end had been 
gained. The centre of the White Guard poured 
through the gap, riding down the astonished enemy. 
Immediately after it followed Thomas Burt's com- 
pany. Unfortunately the rear, under Grimpan, had 
moved far to the east, where it was engaged in a 
fierce fight so deeply that it did not respond to the 
calls. Rather than leave it to its fate, some brave 
fellows volunteered to ride back. Meanwhile the 
main body hovered round the opening to prevent the 
enemy from repairing the breach. 

An anxious quarter of an hour flew by, giving the 
Japanese time to recover from their surprise and 
to hurry reinforcements to the critical point. 
Before these were in position, however, Grimpan's 
company had come up. With cheers the march 
was resumed, among a thick hail of bullets. Sud- 
denly McPartoch was seen to fall. A few comrades 
rode to his side to carry him off. He stumbled to his 
feet, only to collapse again in violent pain. A dum- 
dum had struck him in the hip. His parting words 
were a command to his men to look after themselves 
and to follow Thomas Burt as the leader whose ex- 
perience and circumspection might still save them. 
Then he drew his revolver and killed himself, true to 
the last to the rules of the White Guard. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE DEATH RIDE 

THE death of the beloved Commander-in-Chief 
electrified his troops. Far from discouraging 
them, it filled them with a supreme desire for ven- 
geance. They fought like demons and inflicted 
tremendous losses upon the ever-increasing swarms 
of the Asiatics, Still, all this bravery was thrown 
away. Conquest was out of the question. Cavalry 
from the capital now entered into the contest. Dur- 
ing a temporary lull, Thomas Burt, assisted by 
thoughtful friends, succeeded in reorganizing the 
retreat. But the enemy granted no respite yet. 
Japanese detachments held favourable positions for 
many miles along the western flanks, and action 
after action had to be fought, with the result that the 
White Guard was pressed more and more to the east. 
Late in the afternoon the pursuers were left behind. 
The night was spent with hardly a pretence of a watch 
service. But the camp was not harassed. The 
exhaustion seemed to be mutual. 

At dawn the Australians, somewhat refreshed by 
the unbroken rest, continued the flight. Of the 
gallant nine hundred, only about two hundred and 
sixty survived now. All the proud hopes of two days 
ago had vanished. Instead, quarrel arose within 
the ranks. Grimpan, the leader of the reinforce- 
ments, claimed succession to the chief command, in 
accordance with the original arrangements. Every 

224 



THE DEATH RIDE 225 

one of the old campaigners, and not a few of his own 
people, objected fiercely. It was he who had com- 
manded the rear, the delay of which had led up to 
McPartoch's death. Probably he was not to blame, 
and there certainly seem to have been no allegations 
that he did not equal the bravest in courage. Yet 
the fact told against him. Besides, Thomas Burt 
enjoyed greater confidence ; he was McPartoch's 
choice, and it had been entirely due to his efforts that 
order had been restored on the previous day. Thus 
he was already the supreme leader by reason of his 
merits. Still, Thomas Burt stood down for the sake 
of peace. But less than two hours later Grimpan 
was missing. Some personal partisans, feUow- 
Canadians, raised accusations of foul play. 

Shortly afterwards the Japanese attacked again, 
near the place where the White Guard, but five days 
ago, had burnt down a village after driving back vic- 
toriously a detachment of the enemy. It seemed 
that the latter had waited patiently there- 
abouts for the return of the Australians. Thomas 
Burt now took command as a matter of course. 
All his skill and devotion, however, could not 
make up for numerical weakness. After a dis- 
astrous fight, the volunteers were thrown still fur- 
ther east, hotly pursued by a small body of cavalry. 
As on the previous day the Japanese had again 
attacked from the west and their horsemen did not 
so much pounce straight upon the White Guard as 
ride parallel to it on its western flank. There is a 
grim significance in this fact. It is just conceivable 
that Thomas Burt, who had explored the country 
before the invasion, might have resolved to retreat 
directly upon the Pine Creek. The successive attacks 
from the west may have given him the impression 
that large hostile settlements were situated in the 
intervening district, the present condition of which 

A.c. p 



226 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

was totally unknown to the Australians who had 
entered upon both campaigns from Liverpool River 
and were therefore only acquainted with the eastern 
part of the zone of settlement. It is, indeed, prob- 
able that this cunning Japanese strategy induced 
Thomas Burt to avoid unknown risks by regaining 
his old base in Snowdrop Creek via the head of Liver- 
pool River, every inch of which route the bushmen 
were famihar with. And thus, it appears, he played 
right into the hands of the enemy. 

During the last struggle some Australian scouts 
on the extreme western wing had been cut off from 
all connexion with the main force. They, too, were 
hotly pursued by Japanese cavalry and at nightfall 
they had given up all hope to regain the others. 
There were eighteen of them, and one of the number 
was a volunteer from Port Darwin. This man sug- 
gested that they should try to reach the railway. 
Under the circumstances his advice was accepted. 
The httle band had a final skirmish with the enemy 
next day and lost five comrades. The thirteen sur- 
vivors arrived at Pine Creek a week later, utterly 
exhausted. 

With the exception of the thirteen, who were 
separated from the remainder, not one member of the 
White Guard has ever returned to the haunts of 
civilized men so far as is known. Its fate is one of 
the unexplained mysteries of history. There is only 
one document in existence which, if genuine, may 
throw some light on the matter. It was found, in 
1917, about a day's ride south from the site of the 
base at the head of Liverpool River in a hollow log, 
faintly marked, which had evidently been overlooked 
by the Japanese. The discovery was made by a 
party of English tourists, among whom, however, 
one of the wounded men of the first campaign had 



THE DEATH RIDE 227 

managed to get himself included. Being, therefore, 
famihar with that strange wilderness, he was the 
actual finder. The document was enclosed in'a gun- 
metal watch-case. It was merely a crumpled slip of 
paper bearing the following pencil inscription — 

" Again attacked this morning. Enemy occupied 
our base beforehand. Are still 116 strong. No 
surplus horses . N o stores , Am slightly wounded . — 
T. B." 

The writing differs so much from that of the diary 
that some experts doubt if it was done by the same 
hand. But it must be remembered that the writer, 
according to his own statement, was wounded and 
probably in the last stage of despair and exhaustion. 

Curiously enough, about the same time a Japanese, 
who had fled his country for some offence and was 
engaged in the household of a British merchant in 
Hong Kong, indulged in some indiscretions. When 
his stories began to attract attention he disappeared 
unaccountably, for which reason it has been impos- 
sible to verify the reports. This fellow seems to 
have boasted that he helped to conquer the Northern 
Territory. His version was that immediately after 
the burning of the first village a Japanese force, 
consisting of infantry and cavalry, set out to seize the 
Australian base (he meant the camp at the head of 
Liverpool River, no doubt). When the remnant of 
the White Guard returned, a series of severe struggles 
followed, in the first of which it had been completely 
surprised and had lost its baggage. The wounded 
men were " put to sleep " by the surgeons. All the 
dead, white or brown, were cremated. The end came 
one morning before dawn, when in the moonlight the 
last survivors were surrounded and destroyed. But 
the Japanese did not lose so many fighters as had 
been feared. 

The statements of the talkative Japanese domestic 



228 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

are quite compatible with the shred of information 
on the tiny sHp of paper. And his disappearance 
certainly does not disarm the suspicion that he spoke 
the truth. The few lines — or rather death cries — 
which have been recovered do not probably represent 
Thomas Burt's whole account of the second cam- 
paign ; he must have continued his diary, for the 
survivors all agree that he wrote a good deal. This 
priceless manuscript may have perished in the flames 
together with the corpse of its author, or it may be 
hidden away in some secret archives in Tokio. 

Though it may seem incredible, the fact is that the 
Japanese have never admitted, either officially or 
unofficially, any knowledge of the existence of the 
White Guard. Tokio simply sheltered behind the 
plea that there was no official connexion with the late 
subjects of the Mikado, who were considered, to all 
intents and purposes, as British citizens in an Im- 
perial colony. The settlers themselves have re- 
mained marvellously silent with regard to this matter. 
It is easy to see why they should do so. If ever the 
people of the United Kingdom should wake to a clear 
understanding of the terrible treatment meted out to 
its kinsmen, before the affair has passed into ancient 
history, all the little peevishnesses and jealousies would 
vanish before the thunderclap of a national explosion, 
the consequences of which would be incalculable. 
That a bloody secret should be known to thousands 
of Orientals without ever being divulged to Euro- 
peans by one of them was by no means a unique 
occurrence. And in this case the Japanese had the 
advantage that, as a result of their refined diplomacy, 
the Australian nation was confronted with issues of 
such vastness that, for the moment, the gueriUa war 
in the far north of the Commonwealth seemed to be 
of very little importance compared to them. The 
vanishinent of twelve hundred men, who had never 



THE DEATH RIDE 229 

been prominently before the public eye, attracted 
hardly any attention. And the handful of survivors 
lay low in the Palmerston district, afraid of arrest 
by the Imperial authorities. Moreover, for several 
months afterwards, the fate of the main body of the 
White Guard remained uncertain. It might have 
been mad enough to attempt the overland retreat to 
Queensland. There is the possibility — and if ever 
the Japanese should be hard pressed for an explana- 
tion, they will probably fall back! upon it — that this 
attempt was made. Possibly the bones of the volun- 
teers are strewn about some dried-out waterhole, or 
buried in the sand-drifts of the interior. 

But Austrahans do not believe it. And with due 
regard to Thomas Burt's last message, as well as to 
the Hong-Kong indiscretion, the main features of the 
final struggle, as it must have been, may be recon- 
structed without any special effort of the imagination. 
While the White Guard was still dreaming of conquest 
after the burning of the southernmost village and the 
annihilation of its inhabitants ; while its members, 
thinking that they had struck terror into the hearts 
of the enemy, were pushing forward to deal a decisive 
blow at his nerve-centre of power ; all the time a 
Japanese army marched southwards, patient, day after 
day, sure of ultimate revenge, leaving detachments 
in commanding positions, probably near the principal 
waterholes, and never resting until it had occupied the 
Australian base. The bulk of this force consisted, no 
doubt, of the garrison of the southern belt of outlying 
villages, some of which the volunteers had found 
deserted. If so, the distance which had to be tra- 
versed by it cannot have been over eighty miles and it 
must have had plenty of time to enter into possession 
and to prepare its future course of action before the 
White Guard returned. There is something fascin- 
ating about the tenacity, thoroughness and subtle 



230 ROMANCE OF THE WHITE GUARD 

leadership of the Japanese which compels admiration 
and places their conduct of this obscure bush cam- 
paign on a level with their world-famous exploits on 
the Manchurian plains. That must be admitted, 
though white men may regret the fact. It mattered 
nothing to the invaders that an Australian elite corps 
was threatening their capital. Not content to ward 
off the danger, they organized, simultaneously, a 
deadly counter-attack. 

Their calculations proved correct. Crushed be- 
tween overwhelming numbers, the White Guard 
fled for life. For two days Japanese detachments 
harassed its western flanks, driving it eastwards so 
that it might not escape from the prepared trap. 
Then, when it had passed out of the zone of hostile 
settlement to supposed security and was approaching 
the base, the enemy suddenly swept down upon it, 
causing a wild stampede in which the reserve horses 
and stores were left behind. 

The last night. Utter exhaustion in the Australian 
camp. The leader wounded. The moon, proud and 
early on that triumphant night of fire and sword 
which marked the outset of the second campaign, 
rises late, waning. Her misty beams light the way 
for Asia's hordes, valuing hfe only as a means of de- 
struction, who creep up steadily, steathily on all sides. 
A final roar of battle. At daybreak the Turanians 
look upon their completed work. Surgeons deftly 
move among the fallen volunteers, dispensing the 
crowning mercy where the suffering is not yet ended. 
Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. They are excellent 
men, though not Christians. The first rays of the 
morning sun ghtter upon the metal and glass of cool 
little syringes, as, one by one, the wounded men are 
"put to sleep." Meanwhile the Japanese troops 
have been busy heaping together dry wood. The 
corpses are flung on top, and soon the flames envelop 



THE DEATH RIDE 231 

them. It was an appropriate termination — the blazing 
funeral pyre ; just the manner in which the old 
Norsemen, whose blood had rolled in the veins of 
many of the dead patriots, used to honour fallen 
heroes. That probably Turanian carcasses were 
consumed in the same fire did not lessen the grandeur 
of the end ; these were merely additional fuel. 

So it may have been. Some day the Japanese may 
tell a later generation their version of the racial 
struggle. Then the details will have to be modified 
most hkely. But one thing is certain. The short 
and hitherto uneventful history of the youngest 
Continent has been ennobled by one sublime epi- 
sode which ranks equal to the proudest traditions of 
Old World nations — the D eath Ride of the White 
Guard. 



PART III 

Birth-pangs of Twentieth Century 
Nationhood 

CHAPTER I 

STORM-CLOUDS GATHERING IN THE WEST 

ON August 12, 1912, two days after the Federal 
election riots in Perth and Freemantle, ss. 
Katoomha, under charter to the Commonwealth, 
steamed into the latter port, and landed the Federal 
District Commandant, Colonel Ireton, and two 
staff officers. His instructions were most severe. 
For the ease with which the entire East had been 
brought to bow to the supremacy of the central 
authorities, had led these to believe that the adop- 
tion of similar measures would have similar results 
in West Australia. Colonel Ireton was the right 
man for the task, but with the wrong orders, into 
the composition of which no spirit of forbearance 
had entered, nor any consideration that the State 
might have a mind of its own. 

Even before the arrival of the Commandant, 
the local Government had received a peremptory 
wire from Melbourne demanding the punishment of 
the ringleaders in the election disturbances. And 
on the day following his return, the State legislative 
discussed the matter. It was a stormy sitting. 



234 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

Ministerial partisans pointed out that Western 
Australia was by no means the only place where acts 
of political violence had occurred. The Attorney- 
General denied that there were any ringleaders in 
the case, which he termed a spontaneous mob 
excess. In the end a resolution passed regretting the 
incident, and appealing to the Federal authorities 
to let bygones be bygones and to fix a near date for 
another polling, when care would be taken that the 
irregularities should not be repeated. 

Though this attitude was studiously moderate, 
the temper of the local governing classes was not, 
as Colonel Ireton soon discovered. He found the 
coast militia totally disorganized. Owing to his 
prolonged, though unwilling, absence. Federal influ- 
ence in the army was dead. Class I had been 
duly recruited in accordance with the proclamation, 
but it had fallen under the control of the State 
Government, which had appointed officers from the 
leading families on the coast, who were known for 
their separatist leanings. The Commandant's first 
act, therefore, was to call upon the Premier to cease 
all interference and to assist him to re-establish 
Commonwealth authority. In reply the Cabinet 
insisted, before everything else, on a guarantee 
that the constitution would be respected in all 
particulars. Colonel Ireton declared that such an 
undertaking was outside his department. 

Immediately the cry of Federal insolence was 
raised. Another debate took place in the Assembly, 
the Premier calling attention to the fact that the 
arbitrary resolution of the late Federal Parliament 
had removed legal means of safeguarding the con- 
stitutional rights of the State. Other speakers 
complained that nothing had been done to strengthen 
local fortifications, although money had been poured 
out for such purposes in the East ; that would 



STORM-CLOUDS GATHERING IN WEST 235 

show the danger of trusting entirely to the Common- 
wealth rulers for the defence of the State. The 
outcome was another resolution affirming the need 
that Western Austrahans should remain masters 
in their own house, and authorizing the Premier 
to retain control of the army unless constitutional 
guarantees were given. 

Colonel Ireton received due information of this 
decision together with the intimation that the local 
forces would be organized on Federal lines, to which 
end his advice would be welcome. Moreover, he 
was assured that the troops would always act in 
harmony with the Federal army, provided that 
there would be no demands the fulfilment of which 
would leave the State defenceless. This was a 
plain hint that the local levies would not serve out- 
side West Australia. The Colonel refused to recog- 
nize restrictions. He boldly proceeded to Perth 
barracks and appealed to the patriotism of the rank 
and file. His antagonists evidently did not care to 
employ personal violence against him. But they 
hit upon a means much more effectual and insulting. 
The soldiers were ordered out of his presence by 
their own officers and marched off rifle on shoulder, 
leaving him in possession of the empty building. 

The Commandant, in a towering rage, wired a 
detailed account of the affront to Melbourne. It 
made a profound impression there, and from that 
moment, probably, may be dated the triumph of 
Extremist policy against the obstinate State. 

He was instructed by telegraph to allow nothing 
to stand in his way, and to seize control of the 
militia at all hazards. It was simply to be insistent 
from a safe distance. The Colonel could not help 
noticing how fierce passions were being worked up. 
Harsh measures, he knew, would precipitate a 
crisis. He was not merely a military man, but a 



236 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

patriot. And it caused him intense pain to think 
that his actions might end in bloodshed. For two 
days he tried to come to a friendly understanding 
by a judicious use of private persuasion. But he 
was quite unsuccessful. Even Labour men and 
advanced Radicals, who had the reputation of being 
staunch Federalists, held aloof. For the issue was 
no longer theoretic. By the resolution of the late 
ParUament, and by subsequent developments in 
the East, the Commonwealth rulers had shown 
disrespect of constitutional obligations. Whatever 
their private opinions were as to the necessity, or 
otherwise, of this policy. Western Australians, 
within the circle of influence of the local authorities, 
now drew together in defence of their State. His- 
tory repeats itself. It was the same thing in Amer- 
ica fifty years ago. There, in the southern parts, 
many citizens lived, whose hearts were with the 
north for the abolition of negro slavery. Yet, when 
the call to arms sounded, they enlisted loyally under 
Confederate colours, in the cause of their home 
states ^against overbearing Washington. Matters 
were not advanced so far in Western Australia, 
but the current ran already in that direction. 

Colonel Ireton recognized that his mission on the 
coast had failed. He could do nothing there. The 
naval detachment on board ss. Katoomha was not 
under his direct orders, and in any case too weak to 
be of any use. For a moment he thought of 
throwing up his commission. But that would 
merely have meant his professional ruin. Australia 
had no need of men in high positions who lost heart 
in a crisis. Moreover, his retirement would not 
improve the outlook. On the contrary, it would 
probably increase the madness of the State-Righters, 
There was still one chance for the Commandant — 
the miners of the interior were true Federalists. If 



STORM-CLOUDS GATHERING IN WEST 237 

he could get away to the goldfields, he might win their 
allegiance and, by training them to war, overawe 
the coast. 

To gain time, and to throw his enemies off the 
scent — for they closely watched him — he fell ilh 
Nothing could have pleased the local authorities 
better, since it allowed them to postpone harsh 
measures while they quietly strengthened their 
hold on the masses. Colonel Ireton sent for the 
commander of ss. Katoomha, a naval lieutenant 
born in South Australia, whom he trusted and with 
whose assistance the escape was arranged. It was 
certain that, as soon as it became known in Perth 
that the Colonel was in the interior, his telegraphic 
connexion with headquarters would be interrupted. 
For this reason he wished to take with him the wire- 
less apparatus fitted on the Katoomha as well as 
two experts to work it. As for the electricity required 
Kalgoorhe would not miss it. 

The young lieutenant played his part well. 
Colonel Ireton got worse and worse, so bad, in 
fact, that he could not receive visitors for several 
days. Long cyphergrams were exchanged with Mel- 
bourne, but, under the circumstances, no suspicions 
were aroused. The two experts, with the wireless 
apparatus, left by rail, in ordinary garb, without 
attracting any attention. And on August 21, after 
the arrival of the mail steamer from Europe, a 
middle-aged gentleman of commercial aspect booked 
passage to Kalgoorlie by first train. It was the 
Colonel ! SS. Katoomha remained in port for the best 
part of another week. Then she, too, steamed away. 
The entire Federal establishment on the West coast, 
which was looked upon with so much hatred and 
annoyance, had vanished suddenly. 



CHAPTER II 

THE MASTERY OF THE GOLDFIELDS 

COLONEL IRETON, alighting in Kalgoorlie, 
found himself in surroundings very different 
from those he had fled. However, he was quite 
prepared for this, for twice before he had been in 
the interior on journeys of inspection. He was not 
recognized and, indeed, he did not choose to pro- 
claim his individuality and his purposes all at 
once. Instead, he renewed old acquaintances and 
made it his business to gather a circle of influential 
supporters round himself on the quiet. In this 
respect, he met with much success, and within 
twenty-four hours he felt strong enough to throw 
off his disguise. 

The population of the Eastern Goldfields — as of 
all others — consisted mainly of adventurers who 
had drifted there from all parts of the world. 
Victorians, whom the decline of their own mines 
had driven further afield, and men of the other 
states of Eastern Australia, preponderated. There 
were many Europeans and Americans, but hardly 
any natives of Western Australia. Such a mixture 
of international elements did not understand the 
narrow parochialism of the coast. From the very 
nature of their toil in a hot desert country, at the 
bidding of wealthy companies, the shareholders of 
which resided mostly in the distant pleasure grounds 
of the globe, the miners were imbued with advanced 

253 



THE MASTERY OF THE GOLDFIELDS 239 

socialistic ideas. Their vote had carried the acces- 
sion of the State to the Commonwealth and was 
responsible for its permanent exclusive representa- 
tion, by Labour men in the Federal Senate. More- 
over, the mining electorates never failed to send 
advanced Sociahsts into the House of Representa- 
tives, as well as into the State Assembly. In short, 
politically they formed a pronounced contrast to 
the coast, where a majority of the people cherished 
Moderate ideals and, consequently, resented fiercely 
the tendencies of the interior. For as the result of 
co-operation between the coastal labour minority 
and the interior Labour majority, advanced radical- 
ism dominated the local legislature and continually 
menaced the coastal vested interests. 

Yet the bonds of union were stronger than the 
mutual aversion. For the barren, arid goldfields 
depended absolutely on regular outside suppHes of 
the necessaries of life and of all luxuries, which 
could only be drawn from the west coast as long as 
no transcontinental railway existed. On the other 
hand, the social and economic organization of the 
Coast was based on the needs of the goldfields, and 
must collapse if these should be diverted to other 
quarters. 

When the Japanese invasion became known, 
the goldfields had faithfully reflected the alarm of 
the Eastern States and had loyally indulged in 
anti-colour riots after the fashion set there, though 
on a smaller scale. The energetic steps taken by 
the Commonwealth to create a national army roused 
much sympathy. In all the centres. Class I formed 
companies who zealously practised shooting. As 
the policy of the central Government became more 
relentless, so martial enthusiasm increased. Many 
a patriot, tired of the monotony of the dusty desert, 
looked forward gladly to the chance of a change, 



240 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

particularly if it should be full of excitement. Mes- 
sage after message was despatched to Perth demand- 
ing instructions and officers, and, above all, modern 
arms. Nearly every man possessed an ordinary 
shot gun, good enough to serve for drill or even firing 
practice. But the recruits were eager to have 
proper service rifles, so that they might get rid of 
the idea that they were playing. The State autho- 
rities, however, were not in a hurry to equip and 
train the miners. They could not hope to exact 
support for the cause of narrow parochialism from 
this large body of reckless, self-conscious Federalists. 
Perth, therefore, aimed at keeping the population 
of the gold-fields unorganized while arming, and 
thus placing in an advantage the coastal districts. 
Colonel Ireton, on reaching Kalgoorlie, discerned 
at once that the underhandedness of the State 
Government had resulted in universal discontent. 
Many leaders of the miners were quite circumspect 
enough, especially with the aid of the latest 
advices, to penetrate the real meaning of the 
neglect. He set himself, without delay, to benefit 
by the resentment. Having assured himself pri- 
vately of the assistance of a number of stout parti- 
sans, he called a secret meeting of the leaders of 
trades-union and friendly societies. Economic and 
political organization was very complete, and every 
association had become a centre of the malcontents. 
It was on this occasion that the Colonel threw off 
his reserve and carried his audience by a straight- 
forward, patriotic appeal. He received a unanimous 
promise of support. But it was now necessary to 
prevent that Perth should be warned early. He 
proceeded to the Post Office, and, proving his autho- 
rity, ordered that no telegrams dealing with pohtical 
and military developments, and no cypher telegrams, 
should be forwarded to the coast. He had no difficulty 



THE MASTERY OF THE GOLDFTELDS 241 

there, as he had to do with Federal officials. This 
precaution did not suffice, however. There were 
the railway telegraphs, of which he had to secure 
control. Moreover, if he did not wish to see defeated 
all his efforts to maintain secrecy, he had to inter- 
rupt the train service, so that the conveyance of 
passengers or letters might be impossible. As the 
railway was under State management, he had to 
employ force. At the head of a numerous band 
of patriots, he overawed the staff of Kalgoorlie 
station. His wireless experts seized the telegraph. 
Others removed vital parts from engines, and even 
blocked and guarded the line. A special train, 
managed by the most determined and trusted 
Federalists, was despatched in the direction of Perth. 
These men were under orders to confiscate or destroy 
every telegraphic installation as far west as Merenden, 
to block the line at that place, to keep a strict watch 
there, to disable or to shunt back to Kalgoorlie any 
engine on the wayside stations. Colonel Ireton 
had opened hostihties. To account for the stoppage 
of the railway traffic, the authorities in Perth were 
informed by wire that a great train disaster had 
occurred. Apart from misleading them, this move 
was calculated to attract as much rolling stock as 
possible. The Colonel compelled the station people 
to make urgent appeals for relief trains, which he 
intended to seize, thus diminishing the means of 
communication at the disposal of the State. 

Such strenuous measures could not remain secret 
even for hours. Kalgoorlie was thrown into fits 
of wild excitement. And the Commandant deemed 
it wise to take the citizens into his confidence forth- 
with. At night he addressed a huge open-air meet- 
ing by torchlight and unfolded his plans and his 
reasons with the utmost frankness. He said that 
he was instructed by the only lawful authority to 

A.C. Q 



242 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

organize the militia of the State, and that he would 
do so, even if he had to lead the loyal miners upon 
Perth. He adjured his audience to stand by him in 
defence of White Australia, in defence of the glorious 
inheritance of their race. He said that he did not 
plead for mercy or for favours ; he merely pleaded 
that they should act like men, not like cowards, and 
should declare their allegiance there and then — 
for the misguided West Coast or for the Common- 
wealth. The ground had been well prepared by 
his supporters, and hurricanes of cheers signi- 
fied the decision of the gathering. Afterwards 
the town council held a special sitting. At mid- 
night the Federal Commandant was introduced, 
and the members placed themselves at his dis- 
posal in a body. He lost no time. Next morning 
he attended a conference of the managers of the 
chief local mines and promised that the stoppage of 
traffic would not last for over five days, on his part. 
Training hours were fixed in a friendly spirit so that 
the unavoidable work of the industry should not be 
interfered with. Then he worked out a simple but 
efficient course of military exercise and appointed 
the first batch of officers of the local mihtia. He 
slept in the train which rushed him off to other 
centres. His journey was an unbroken triumphant 
process. Everywhere he received ovations ; every- 
where he won the gratitude of the most influential 
and capable partisans by rewarding them with 
officerships. Within a few days Colonel Ireton 
was the undisputed master of the great Eastern 
Goldfields. 

Meanwhile, relief trains rolled down from Perth. 
The comedy with regard to the imaginative disaster 
was, indeed, well maintained. Detailed lists of the 
casualties and descriptions of the losses were wired 
to the departmental heads. It was alleged that the 



THE MASTERY OF THE GOLDFIELDS 243 

line had been torn up and that considerable time 
must elapse until repairs could be finished and the 
traffic resumed. That all seemed so reasonable 
that no suspicions were aroused. Goods trains, 
too, went down the line. For there had been quite 
a burst of orders from the interior. Shrewd traders 
foreseeing prolonged trouble, thought it worth while 
to increase their stocks. Colonel Ireton rather 
encouraged this business venture — for reasons of 
his own. The merchants had fullest use of the 
telegraph for the transmission of open commercial 
messages. 

But never an engine, or a car, or an employee re- 
turned from the West. Something seemed to be 
radically wrong. The responsible managers became 
restless. And the Minister for Railways had just 
decided to travel to the scene of the accident when 
the secret of the Colonel's illness leaked out. An 
employee, anxious for promotion, evaded the watch 
set by the Federals by leaving Southern Cross on 
a bicycle one dark night. He stopped a down 
train, but had much difficulty in convincing the 
startled attendants that he was not joking. The 
train was rushed back to the coast, where the news 
created consternation. Colonel Ireton was nearly 
forgotten. His retirement was explained satisfac- 
torily by his illness. Courteous inquiries were as 
courteously acknowledged by his orderlies, who 
guarded his sick-bed and regretted deeply that 
personal callers could not be admitted, on account 
of the patient's nervous breakdown. Nobody really 
cared about him as long as he lay quiet. Disabled, 
he was preferable even to a more phant substitute. 
And now the truth came out that his illness was a 
trick, as well as the railway disaster, and that he 
was in a position to menace the State authorities. 
Perth rang with the news. The two orderUes, hear- 



244 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

ing of it, hurried on board the Katoomha, which left 
Freemantle at once. 

Until then (August 28) the State Government does 
not seem to have regarded seriously an armed 
conflict with the Commonwealth. Probably the 
former considered that it could bullock through by 
sheer obstinacy, relying not a little on the inaccessi- 
bihty of its nerve centres by land, and on the fact 
that its antagonists possessed no navy. This assur- 
ance was no longer possible. Colonel Ireton's 
actions spelt compulsion. At the same time the 
comphcations caused by them went far to make a 
peaceful understanding unlikely. While only the 
Commonwealth had to be reckoned with, such an 
understanding might not have been popular, but it 
was neither very distasteful. It was quite different 
now that a Federal officer had succeeded to seduce a 
component part of the State to disloyalty. The 
whole west coast felt the blow as a mortal insult. 
Under such pressure, submission would be dishonour, 
and was therefore out of the question. As it had 
been all over the Continent, so it was in its western 
corner : when the crisis developed, Extremists gained 
the upper hand. Though the Government did no- 
thing for some days, seemed, indeed, to be paralysed, 
strong influences were at work under the surface, 
shaping rapidly a course towards open resistance 
against the Commonwealth. The movement was 
directed by the officers of the local mihtia, who were 
afraid, with some reason, that the first Federal 
measure would be their own removal, after the insub- 
ordination and malice with which they had treated 
their lawful chief. Those who had shown their 
disdain too openly might expect even worse punish- 
ment. The fruit of their alarm seems to have been 
a regular conspiracy for the purpose of retaining 
power by means of the continuance of State control 



THE MASTERY OF THE GOLDFIELDS 245 

over the troops. These officers, forming the best 
organized body in the community, and being con- 
nected by ties of kinship with the leading famihes, 
rapidly acquired influence enough to overawe the 
official Government. While Ministers were still 
feebly struggling against being reduced to mere 
puppets of a military oligarchy, an incident hap- 
pened which spurred the malcontents to action and 
committed the whole State to a poHcy of violence. 
Immediately on receipt of the first news of the 
Japanese invasion, the Federal authorities had 
ordered war stores in England, After the mobiliza- 
tion. Parliament had voted large amounts for 
further purchases. As haste was deemed an im- 
portant consideration, these had not been confined 
to Great Britain, but ready modern armaments 
had also been bought up in Europe and America. 
Among the latter was a large parcel of rifles 
— several thousand — with proper ammunition, 
and two light batteries of four guns each, from 
prominent German factories. A German steamer, 
manned entirely by a white crew, brought them 
out, and called also at Southamption, in consequence 
of the British maritime counter-boycott, where she 
shipped several thousand regulation service rifles. 
Somehow, in the stress of work, the responsible 
Federal officials seem to have lost sight of this cargo. 
At any rate, the vessel steamed into Swan River 
for further orders (September 2). The Freemantle 
agents informed the local authorities. A hurried 
meeting of the Cabinet was held. This was the 
crisis ; for the seizure of all the high-class war 
materials would ensure the superiority of the coastal 
militia over any forces which Colonel Ireton might 
be able to put forward. But it would also be tant- 
amount to a challenge against the Commonwealth. 
Some Ministers had not lost yet all sense of propor- 



246 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

tion and entreated their colleagues to be calm and 
loyal. At this juncture, it was proposed that the 
commanding officer should be consulted. That set- 
tled the question. The military demanded practi- 
cally unanimously that they should be provided 
with the best weapons available, to which right 
they claimed to be entitled as much as their Eastern 
comrades. The Government declared its willing- 
ness to accept the consignment on behalf of the 
Department of Defence. It was landed quickly 
without demur, for the agents, overwhemed with 
profitable business on account of the maritime trouble, 
wanted to get the steamer away as quickly as possible. 

When the vessel arrived at Adelaide, the occur- 
rence became known, and a torrent of abuse was 
poured upon the Federal authorities for the careless- 
ness of their officials. The Commonwealth Govern- 
ment breasted the criticism by assuming at once an 
uncompromising attitude. Perth was requested 
by telegraph to make immediate restitution of 
Federal property. But the more closely the State 
rulers inspected their acquisition, the less did they 
feel inclined to part with it. Moreover, they were 
already committed too far. Even a belated sub- 
mission had ceased to be regarded as a guarantee 
against reprisals. Too much bitterness had been 
engendered ; the populace began to grow accus- 
tomed to the idea of resistance in preference to 
slavish obedience. Better, the State-Righters ar- 
gued, a fight in the open, now that the local troops 
were splendidly equipped, than exposure to the 
silent revenge of the Continental Extremists after 
the last constitutional safeguards should have been 
surrendered. 

The Government of Western Austraha replied 
that State money had been spent in the purchase of 
war materials and that, therefore, the people of the 



THE MASTERY OF THE GOLDFIELDS 247 

West were entitled to a share. Particularly so 
since a Federal officer had created dissensions 
within the community and was doing his worst to 
bring about a breach of the peace. Nevertheless, 
restitution would be made on condition that Colonel 
Ireton should be recalled, and as soon as he had 
left the state. Melbourne rejected these terms and 
repeated its demands, adding, moreover, a request 
for a formal apology and punishment of the respon- 
sible officials. Perth, in return, remained obdurate 
and revived the question of constitutional guarantees 
foreshadowing an appeal to the Imperial authorities 
for protection in case of coercive measures. This 
message terminated the diplomatic intercourse 
between Commonwealth and State. 



CHAPTER III 

CLASH OF ARMS 

EVEN when the Government of Western Austra- 
lia seized the consignment of Federal arma- 
ments, it had not finally decided on open resistance 
against the Commonwealth, though this action was 
distinctly hostile. Nothing illustrates more plainly 
the irresolution than the fact that the telegraphic 
connexions between Colonel Ireton and Melbourne 
quarters were not interrupted until the middle of 
September. So the Colonel had received timely 
warning of the improved equipment of the coast 
mihtia. But he was urged nevertheless to establish 
Federal authority throughout the State, by all 
means and at all hazards. In this effort, the cypher- 
gram stated, he would be assisted by armed co- 
operation on the part of the Commonwealth, if it 
should become necessary. The Central authorities, 
and the Extremists at their back, dared at least to 
face the situation squarely. However, as soon as 
the wires snapped Colonel Ireton found himself 
completely isolated. The Federal department had 
not finished its wireless installations, and so his own 
apparatus was useless. He was thrown back on his 
own resources at a most trying time. 

The District Commandant had made good pro- 
gress with the organization of the miners. He had 
gained the confidence of his subordinates, and 
gpnorally made the men feel that they were now 

848 



CLASH OF ARMS 249 

parts of an efficient machine which could be relied 
upon to work smoothly. He hoped that a month's 
patient drill would render his forces superior to the 
coastal miUtia. It was a bitter disappointment for 
him to hear that, owing to a departmental blunder, 
the enemy had been given the advantage of better 
armaments. But he wisely kept his troops in 
ignorance of this ! His own equipment had been 
a source of trouble to him from the outset. Alto- 
gether, he could put forward about 5,000 old service 
rifles, which had been sent down in the past from 
the coast which, with usual selfishness, had retained 
the newer patterns for its own use. In addition, 
there were on the goldfields about 4,000 shot guns 
of all makes, which had been requisitioned for public 
needs. Under any circumstances it was risky to 
match an army possessed of such weapons against a 
better-armed enemy. But when the latter was 
now equipped with the most modern rifles, and 
with artillery into the bargain, the venture became 
well-nigh desperate. 

Inactivity, however, presented a danger still 
worse — the certainty of being starved out. Since 
the State rulers had found out the trick of the 
alleged train disaster, railway communication with 
the coast had ceased entirely. And the goldfields 
were absolutely dependent on imports for the neces- 
saries of life. Thanks to the speculative enter- 
prise of the traders, substantial additions had been 
made to the stocks. The traders were not per- 
mitted to reap the benefits of their smartness 
immediately. As soon as it became evident that 
the trouble would be prolonged, Colonel Ireton 
declared all provisions Government property and 
paid for them in receipts for settlement by the 
Federal authorities. This precaution staved off a 
panic. But it did not really improve the situation. 



250 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

which was, briefly, that, with the utmost care and 
economy, the resources of the eastern goldfields 
might last, without supplements from outside, 
into the second half of October. By the end of that 
short period of grace, therefore, new sources of 
supply would have to be opened either by the 
decisive victory or by the unconditional surrender 
of the army of the interior. 

Everything considered, the Colonel did not feel 
justified to wait idly until the Commonwealth 
should have struck a blow. His orders were per- 
emptory. Hesitation would merely discourage his 
men. Perhaps the Coast would submit rather than 
fight aU Australia, which would be inevitable if 
it should forcibly resist him. His hopes of peace- 
able settlement, however, were rather low. Neither 
did he overlook the formidable difficulties in his 
path if the Coast should make a stand. But, at 
any rate, an active campaign would teach his forces 
the practice of war and would prepare them for a 
great effort when time should be ripe for co-opera- 
tion with a Federal expedition. These reasons 
induced Colonel Ireton to push forward. On Sep- 
tember i8 he moved his vanguard by rail to the 
vicinity of Spencer's Brook Junction, which was 
occupied after a sharp skirmish with a picket of the 
enemy the same night. The consequence was that 
the railway communication between the State 
capital and Albany districts was cut off. 

On the following morning, the citizens of Perth 
and Freemantle were startled by the alarming 
headlines of the Press : " Civil War," " Common- 
wealth Breaks Constitution." " Federal Command- 
ant Opens Hostilities." By noon an official pro- 
clamation was published calling to arms all males 
from eighteen to under forty-five years of age. In 
the Assembly, the Premier declared that they would 



CLASH OF ARMS 251 

uphold the rights of the State, war or peace. The 
Government was, indeed, confident that the attack 
would be repelled. For the call to arms was, after 
all, only a formality. Class I stood ready to take 
the field. And during the last few weeks rifle 
corps and volunteers companies for the older classes 
had sprung into being by private efforts. It was 
well known that the enemy was badly equipped 
and had no artillery. The only point on which 
the State-Righters were anxious was whether the 
local Labourites would espouse the State cause or 
whether they would refuse to fight their comrades 
of the interior, in which case resistance would be 
practically at an end. But the Labourites sided 
with their fellow-citizens. Probably the alarming 
reports spread broadcast in the capital about 
Colonel Ireton's tactics were not without influence 
on their final decision. In fact, the invasion had 
degenerated into a great victualling raid. Con- 
scious of the menace of famine, the miners con- 
fiscated all the live stock and all the provisions 
in the agricultural districts where they found them- 
selves. That was unavoidable, but it had a very bad 
effect, especially as there were some ugly incidents 
of maltreatment of the enraged owners. There was 
no time for calm reasoning. Every man on the 
coast fancied that not only the community but his 
personal property was in danger. And the subtle 
contrast between opulent city and predatory 
province, which stretches through the ages, was 
revived in this modern place, under modem con- 
ditions, fanning world-old passions to fever-heat. 

The command of the State army was entrusted 
to a retired British officer of distinguished career 
who had settled on a small estate near Perth, and 
with an energy and thoroughness peculiar to old 
military men, had identified himself with the cause 



252 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

ol West Australia to such an extent that he hated 
the very name of the Commonwealth. His name 
was Morthill, and he was honoured by the title of 
" General," perhaps because the Federal leader 
ranked only as Colonel. General Morthill enjoyed 
the entire confidence of his staff, and soon became 
the virtual dictator of the State, in whose hands 
the responsible ministers were as soft wax. He was, 
in every respect, a foeman worthy of Colonel Ireton's 
steel. 

General Morthill's task was by no means simple. 
There was a large element of uncertainty about the 
situation, which had to be faced — the possibility 
of a Federal attack from the sea. To meet this 
danger, he concentrated his army at Perth. It con- 
sisted of nearly 4,000 well-trained men of Class I, 
who were aU armed with new regulation service 
rifles, and of a reserve of 6,000 men, who were 
now being organized and for whom an abundance 
of good modern rifles was available. There were also 
the two batteries which had been seized, and four 
older, somewhat heavier guns. The General was a 
little inconvenienced by the shortage of rolling 
stock, owing to Colonel Ireton's confiscation of rail- 
way material of the Eastern line. In consequence 
the traffic of the other lines had been reduced to 
narrow limits, and every engine and truck which 
could be spared had been brought to the capital, 
the terminus of all the railways, whence, accord- 
ingly, troops could be moved out rapidly in every 
direction. Against Colonel Ireton's forces, the 
General, who fully recognized their desperate 
situation, proposed to play a waiting game, in the 
hope that they would be starved quickly into 
surrender. Their danger, however, was also their 
protection against attack. For the small State 
army could not be wasted in warfare in an arid 



CLASH OF ARMS 253 

desert, dependent on a single railway line. Where- 
fore only a detachment was posted at the fringe of 
the agricultural country to prevent raids by the 
enemy. 

But the occupation of Spencer's Brook Junction 
was eagerly accepted by General Morthill as a 
challenge to battle. Both sides spent the follow- 
ing day hurrying troops forward. On September 
20 the first skirmishes were fought and towards 
evening a State company succeeded in ousting the 
miners from a prominent hill, known as Mount 
Mary, which commanded the station. After that 
Colonel Ireton decided to retreat. His opponent 
had at least 5,000 men on the spot, while his own 
numbers did not exceed 4,000, because he had to 
leave behind strong detachments to guard the 
railway and the waterworks against treacherous 
destruction, there being some State sympathizers 
on the field, though they did not dare to proclaim 
themselves as such. Above all, the day's struggle 
had convinced him that he had no chance against 
the superior equipment of the enemy, whose fire 
was effective over a much longer range. During 
the night the army of the Interior entrained for 
the east and the main body was beyond the reach 
of General Morthill at dawn. The Colonel, how- 
ever, to mask his failure and to counteract the dis- 
couragement likely to follow in its wake, had resolved 
to execute a surprise attack upon the most advanced 
State position. 

For this purpose he retained 400 volunteers. 
A train stood ready about a mile beyond the slopes 
of Mount Mary, its last two carriages occupied by 
marksmen. Before sunrise (September 21) the 
volunteers crept uphill towards the hostile encamp- 
ment, and as soon as it was light enough, a rush 
was made. But the enemy was on his guard 



254 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

General Morthill had decided on the previous 
evening to mass his foes on Mount Mary and to 
plant artillery there. Some reinforcements had 
already arrived under cover of the darkness. So, 
after some disorder at the outset, resulting in 
heavy losses on the part of the defenders, the fight 
came to a standstill. And soon the superior num- 
bers and weapons of the State troops began to tell 
and the miners were thrown back. Before they 
could regain their train and safety, General Morthill, 
hurrying up, launched a counter attack. A party 
of his sharpshooters took up a sheltered position 
on the slopes whence they could range over the 
whole ground over which the volunteers had to re- 
turn. Colonel Ireton was wounded in the arm. 
Just as he reached his carriage, two guns opened fire. 
There was only one escape left to him, if he did not 
wish to fall into the hands of the enemy with all his 
men. That was to leave the loiterers to their fate. 
After a warning whistle and another short wait, 
which during the struggle raged round the cars, the 
occupants of which fired from the windows and 
platforms, the train started, carrying off about 
230 passengers. The other 170 stayed behind 
dead or wounded and in captivity. Altogether 
it was a disastrous affair for the Federals. 

Colonel Ireton did not deceive himself regarding 
the consequences of the rebuff. His men, it was 
proved, were equipped too inferiorly to hold their 
own against the State troops. The usefulness, 
even the salvation, of his organization depended 
now on Federal action from the sea, which would 
divide the forces arrayed against him and would 
give him a chance of co-operation. Two days after 
his return to Kalgoorlie, there was a development 
which somewhat revived his hopes. At last he 
was able to communicate with Melbourne by wireless 



CLASH OF ARMS 255 

telegraphy. The main station had been constructed 
at Cape Borda on Kangaroo Island, which was 
already in cable connexion with the Continent. 
Three steamers, fitted with the necessary apparatus, 
completed the system. One was stationed in the 
centre of the Great Australian Bight near the point 
of intersection of 131° East and 35° South, another 
about five degrees further west and the same lati- 
tude, and the third was anchored in Port Esper- 
ance. This latter intercepted the messages from 
Kalgoorlie, only slightly more than 200 miles distant 
in a straight line, and transmitted them by way of 
the floating station to Cape Borda. None of the inter- 
vening spaces exceeding 300 miles, the installation, 
after some experiments, served its purpose very well. 

Colonel Ireton at once telegraphed a summary of 
his failure to headquarters and insisted on the 
following alternative. Either a maritime expedi- 
tion would have to be dispatched within ten days, 
or he would have to disband his forces and to 
surrender arms and his person, to prevent the 
horrors of famine in the loyal districts under his 
care. 

But he was not the only one who received encour- 
agement about this time. On October i a British 
cruiser steamed into Swan River to the immense 
joy of the coastal population, which knew that 
its leaders had appealed to London for Imperial 
protection less than three weeks ago. The arrival 
of the warship was interpreted as a prompt re- 
sponse and hailed as proof of British sympathy 
for the State. And the local Government did 
nothing to disabuse the masses, though it was aware 
that the demonstration, in reality, meant nothing 
of the kind. The cruiser had been sent to re-assure 
and to calm the people, not to excite it. For the 
lessons of the immediate past had not been quite 



256 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

lost upon England. Its statesmen did not wish 
to interfere in the domestic arrangements of 
the Commonwealth. Any other course would 
have been open to the suspicion that it was an 
attempt to exploit the present unhappy situation 
of Australia, and would probably have led to a 
violent revival of indignation in the sister-dominions. 
Moreover, educated political thought in Great 
Britain favoured Federation of the distant posses- 
sions as a means of concentrating and increasing 
Imperial power. Assistance to secession in one case, 
for the sake of temporary advantage, would have 
created a fatal precedent which in future might be 
fastened upon by malcontents in other colonies. For 
this reason alone it was not to be countenanced 
for a moment. Perhaps the trouble in itself was 
not regretted in London. While it lasted, the 
Commonwealth certainly could not devote much 
attention to the Northern Territory, and things there 
would be allowed to settle down.''^ But all that 
would come about without Great Britain taking 
sides. Accordingly, the reply to the anxious State 
Government was couched in non-committal terms 
and merely expressed a firm hope that all parties 
would adhere strictly to a constitutional course. 

It was a pious wish. Already rumours were 
current in Perth that a Federal fleet was on the 
point of sailing for the west coast. The Common- 
wealth Government, while maintaining the greatest 
secrecy with regard to the strength of its prepara- 
tions, had allowed this fact to leak out, in the hope 
to alarm its antagonists and to induce them to 
concentrate their forces in defence of the capital, 
relieving the pressure on Colonel Ireton's army. 

The Colonel, now in constant communication 
with headquarters, did not fail to scatter broadcast 
the good news of approach of succour from the 



CLASH OF ARMS 257 

East among his faithful followers. The work of 
reorganization proceeded with renewed energy. 
He estabhshed a reliable scouting service. His 
horsemen starting from a point on the railway about 
thirty miles east of Spencer's Brook Junction, 
which point he had fortified as an advanced base, 
made stubborn incursions into the enemy's terri- 
tory. It was arduous work, in which many lives 
were lost, for in this guerilla warfare no side gave 
quarter. The most daring scouts pushed forward to 
within sight of Perth and kept the Colonel informed 
of every important movement of the hostile army. 

Meanwhile General Morthill did not sleep on his 
laurels. He quite realized his danger of being 
caught between two fires. Yet he did not lose 
hope. His troops had already shown fine spirit. 
They fought for home and hearth, and had this ad- 
vantage, that they were not in their own country, 
where the entire population was backing them up, 
where losses could be promptly filled and the 
wounded would be sure of loving care. On the 
other hand, the Federals would be absolutely 
dependent on a floating base, and from the moment 
they set foot on land they would find themselves 
on hostile soil, without any refuge in case of rebuff. 
The same considerations applied to Colonel Ireton's 
army, which, with every mile of its approach to- 
wards the coast, would be removed further from 
friendly support. General Morthill was inclined 
to underrate the importance of the miners. He 
knew that they were armed badly, and concluded 
from the hurried retreat after the first encounter 
that they were not possessed of the right enthus- 
iasm either. 

Business was at a standstill in Western Australia. 
The Government had no longer any real influence. 
For some days, there was much talk of its resigna- 

A.C. R 



258 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

tion. But as such a course would not have relieved 
its members from the responsibihty for events which 
had already happened it came to nothing. The 
military opposed resolutely all backsliding tactics 
and insisted that the State should face its fate with 
dignity. Probably there was still a hope that all- 
round firmness might lead to Imperial intervention. 
The Cabinet again protested by cable in London. 
But the Imperial authorities did not choose to de- 
part from their attitude of correct reserve. 

It was evident that the State stood alone. The 
Government now called upon General Morthill to 
see that the community be in a position to repulse 
outside violence. He became dictator. At his 
command Albany district was abandoned, and its 
defenders withdrawn to Perth, on the principle that 
the available forces, small as they were, should not 
be distributed over large distances and exposed to 
the danger of being cut off. Nine thousand men 
were massed within fifteen miles radius from Perth 
Post Office, and 3,000 more were camped at Midland 
Junction, ready to be thrown against the army of 
the interior, which was further opposed by a van- 
guard of 600 men strongly entrenched at Spencer's 
Brook Junction. Albany and Freemantle ports 
were mined. 

These were the preparations of the State when 
the Federal fleet was signalled in its waters off 
Port Esperance (October 4) . It stood out to sea again 
and proceeded to Albany, where a demonstration 
was made (October 5). For several hours the big 
steamers hovered round the entrance of King George 
Sound and several shells were fired into the quiet 
town. At nightfall the fleet continued its journey. 
There was method in these manoeuvres. The 
Federal Commander-in-Chief had established wire- 
less communications with Colonel Ireton and had 



CLASH OF ARMS 259 

exchanged plans of the campaign. The delay in 
the South had the purpose of attracting attention 
to the threatening invasion, and of facilitating thus 
the quiet advance of the army of the Interior within 
striking distance. 

Colonel Ireton acted promptly. He had 
organized a mounted corps of 2,500 men and had 
equipped them with the best rifles. But this was 
his striking force, w^hich he wished to keep intact 
for the decisive blow. The honour of opening the 
road was reserved to the second line, consisting of 
about 4,000 miners, who were to return to the gold- 
fields as soon as they had succeeded. About noon 
on October 5 the miners attacked the entrenched 
position of the State vanguard, after scouts had 
blown up the railway behind to delay the hurrying 
up of reinforcements. They were repulsed several 
times with severe losses. Again and again they 
charged, until after more than two hours they car- 
ried the rebels' camp. The still fierce resistance was 
stamped out finally by the free use of handbombs — 
a miner's contrivance. Only about 200 survivors 
escaped. The casualties of the victors outnumbered 
the entire strength of the defenders before the battle. 

Before nightfall another engagement was fought 
along the railway line between the retreating 
miners and belated State reinforcements. But 
Colonel Ireton, with his picked cavalry and others, 
to the number of 4,000 altogether, did not wait for 
them. Instead, he turned southwards and occupied 
York, on the direct highway to Perth, in the after- 
noon. His chances were much improved. He had 
captured nearly all the modern rifles with which 
the State vanguard had been armed and, moreover, 
he had gained a start of several hours. In fact, he 
had outflanked the enemy. 

General Morthill, who had hastened to the scene of 



26o BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

trouble on the first news, was the man to make good 
a passing mistake. As soon as his scouts had in- 
formed him of Colonel Ireton's movements, he 
stopped the fight and arrested the advance of his 
troops. All night he diverted further reinforce- 
ments to the neighbourhood of the highroad, a 
distance of about ten miles over rough tracks in 
hilly country. His intention was to seize Mount 
Observation, fifteen miles from York in the 
direction of Perth. But herein he was forestalled 
by the Colonel, who had dispatched a vanguard to 
occupy this commanding point, and who followed 
with his whole army at dawn on October 6. All 
day long, the miners held Mount Observation success- 
fully in a merciless struggle, mainly owing to their 
exclusive employment of handbombs, with which 
they repeatedly defeated the frantic rushes of the 
State troops at the critical moment. In the after- 
noon, however, a most discouraging development 
occurred in the rear of the Federals. General 
Morthill had repaired the railway and had sent 
several trains filled with troops to within two miles 
of York, which township had fallen into his hands. 
The retreat of the army of the Interior had been cut 
off. Its direct advance by road on the capital had 
also become impossible, because the enemy, though 
not yet victorious, was invincible by reason of his 
numbers and his equipment. Next morning, then, 
it would be surrounded on all sides. Artillery would 
come into play against it. And the final result, 
under such circumstances, could not be doubtful. 
Colonel Ireton had, of course, left his wireless 
apparatus on the goldlields. So he was absolutely 
isolated from the outside world, without accurate 
knowledge of the activity of the Federal fleet. But 
he was aware that by this time the latter must be 
ready to land the arrny of invasioUj and that the 



CLASH OF ARMS 261 

ddscent upon the coast would be attempted south- 
wards of Freemantle. If he, therefore, wished to 
be of service in the decisive battle, he had only one 
chance of arriving early enough, or at all. It was 
quite feasible for him to evade to the south, before 
the ring had been closed tightly, and to lead his 
mounted corps over rough country and through 
thick forests upon Rockingham, in the vicinity of 
which township the disembarkment would probably 
take place. However, if he did so, he would have 
to sacrifice the infantry of miners, which, contrary 
to original plans, had followed him so far. Its pres- 
ence would merely have hampered the rapid passage 
of the cavalry. With a heavy heart the Colonel 
divided his forces. After the losses of the day, 
still about 3,200 men remained. Two thousand 
horsemen he placed under his own command. The 
others, 900 men, infantry, and 300 men, cavalry, 
exclusive of the wounded, he entrusted to the 
leadership of his oldest captain. About three 
o'clock in the morning, Colonel Ireton, with his 
2,000 riders, crept down the eastern flank of_^Mount 
Observation and marched south. Soon the deep 
head gullies of Helena River separated him from 
the State army ; from that section of it, he had 
to fear no more. 

At daybreak (on October 7) the Federal fleet 
appeared off Freemantle and began to shell the town. 
But the forts made such stout resistance that two 
hours later the fleet headed southwards again, with- 
out having accomplished much. The information 
was telegraphed to General Morthill, who was busy 
preparing a new attack on Mount Observation. 
That able leader perceived the vital necessity of 
crushing the army of the interior at once, before 
an invading force should be ready to co-operate with 
it. His conviction found expression in a series 



262 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

of furious assaults on the miners' position. The 
heroic httle party of defenders had formed numer- 
ous subdivisions to mask its weakness and practised 
bushman warfare with admirable tenacity. About 
9 a.m. the camp was carried. Shortly afterwards 
General Morthill, whose presence was urgently 
required on the coast, returned to Perth, leaving his 
most trusted subordinate to finish the work of de- 
struction. This the latter did thoroughly. The 
miners were hotly pursued and driven right into 
the arms of the State detachment approaching from 
York. And the proud subordinate, looking about 
him on the field of carnage strewn with over three 
thousand dead and dying men, little dreamt of 
Colonel Ireton's escape, but reported to his General 
that the active army of the interior had ceased to 
exist. 



CHAPTER IV 

CIVIL WAR IN AUSTRALIA AND ITS INEVITABLE RESULT 

THE Federal Parliament assembled on August 
28, 1912. The first weeks of the session 
were given over largely to the evolution of order 
out of the chaos of the elections. Where so many 
interests clashed, where so many intricate political 
questions required the utmost nicety of balancing 
and confidential negotiations before they could be 
handled safely, the startling developments in the 
farthest West were rather welcomed by Parhament 
as a means of diversion. At first nobody understood 
the seriousness of the situation. But when the 
drift of events at Perth became unmistakable, the 
great governing party of the Extremists entered 
wholeheartedly into the contest. Among them the 
most uncompromising and aggressive patriots, in 
whom, whatever their former political opinions, the 
crisis had fostered the wish to end the States misery 
for ever, blended with men whose economic ideas 
were socialistic and pre-required, if not a united 
Universe, at least a closely-knit Commonwealth for 
an experimental base. Both these sections had 
thus, from different motives, the same interest to 
seize this chance of enhancing Federal supremacy. 
After the confiscation of armaments in Perth, the 
Government hastened to fall in with their demands of 
rigour, which, indeed, no one in the House opposed. 
For the remnant of Moderates had learnt the value 

268 



264 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

of silence on all points where Commonwealth and 
State Sovereignty collided ; they did not wish to 
expose their patriotism to further suspicion. 

Votes were passed to enable the Executive to 
grapple with the rebelhon, as it was termed. Troops 
assembled at Adelaide, drawn from New South 
Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Steamers 
were bought or chartered and altered into trans- 
ports. While these preparations were going on, 
the reports of the defeat of Colonel Ireton reached 
Melbourne. The Government was accused by its 
own supporters of unnecessary delay in the despatch 
of the penal expedition, and saved itself only by 
promising that an army strong enough to impose 
the will of Parliament upon the rebels would leave 
within a week. 

On October i, 1912, the Federal Fleet departed 
from Adelaide conveying 15,000 men with 28 guns. 
After demonstrating off several points on the coast 
of West Australia, it arrived, about ten o'clock in the 
morning of October 7, off Rockingham, the port of 
the Yarra Timber Company, situated about fifteen 
miles south of Freemantle, and, after a short bombard- 
ment of the little township, began to land there the 
army of invasion. Telegraph and telephone re- 
ported the news to the State authorities, and large 
forces were immediately hurried southwards from 
Perth. Early in the afternoon, the first shots were 
exchanged between the scouts of the two armies. 
The Federal Commander-in-Chief was not at all 
anxious to precipitate battle. He knew well that 
his men were raw soldiers, and therefore liable to 
sudden panic. The enemy, on the contrary, could 
not be supposed to be suffering from similar weak- 
ness, having already become accustomed to concerted 
action under fire in the struggle against the miners. 
For these reasons the Commander-in-Chief did not 



CIVIL WAR IN AUSTRALIA 265 

like to take chances ; he preferred to go slow and 
to rely on the more thorough training of his men, 
on his superior artillery, the efficiency of which could 
be augmented by the guns of his four auxiliary 
cruisers, as long as he remained within range of the 
latter. 

General Morthill, who arrived at Clarence, half- 
way between Freemantle and Rockingham, at 3 p.m., 
was, on the contrary, eager to strike a decisive blow, 
being aware that the Federals, after having been 
cramped together on board ship in rough seas for a 
week, could not be in the height of condition. He 
rapidly led his vanguard against the Federal out- 
posts and succeeded in sweeping them back. Night 
fell and stopped further progress. But the State 
troops were able to occupy Mount Brown, a pro- 
minent hill less than four miles distant from Rock- 
ingham, and to place eight guns in this commanding 
position. 

This move practically forced the continuation of 
the battle next morning (October 8). For Rocking- 
ham could not be held by the Federals unless the 
galling fire from the State batteries on Mount Brown 
was silenced. During several hours a murderous 
struggle raged round the hill. The decision was 
brought on at last by a tremendous bombardment 
of General Morthill's key from the cruisers. One of 
the vessels took ground and had to be abandoned, 
sinking soon afterwards. But the heavier calibre of 
the remaining three ships' guns proved too strong. 
A State gun was wrecked. The defenders suffered 
terribly. By noon they had to quit the position, 
which was occupied at once by two Federal regi- 
ments with four batteries. 

The advantage gained by the Commonwealth 
troops was exploited with energy. Another battery 
was established even further north on the road bend 



266 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

between Mount Brown and Clarence, well within 
the cruisers' range. Meanwhile the State army 
had retreated behind Clarence, which was burning 
fiercely. It was nearly three o'clock in the after- 
noon when a strong force of FederalVolunteers rushed 
at them to complete their overthrow. But General 
Morthill was not beaten. Now that he had with- 
drawn his whole army beyond the cruisers' range, 
his resistance became desperate. Rush after rush 
was repulsed. And in the end, his front lines turned 
tables on the Federals in a furious counter-assault. 
Broken and decimated, and not too brilliantly sup- 
ported, the volunteers fell back. Close behind, in 
hot pursuit, followed the West Australian elite, the 
sporting young manhood of Perth and Freemantle. 
General Morthill, by a masterly stroke of tactics, 
diverted them upon the advanced battery on the road 
bend. The covering Federal force, about 600 men 
strong, suddenly found themselves confronted by 
overwhelming numbers pressing so closely upon them 
that the batteries on Mount Brown and the cruisers 
had to cease fire in that direction, fearful of shelling 
their own ranks. It was the culminating moment 
of the battle. The Western Australians — in imi- 
tation of the miners — used handbombs with such 
deadly effect that every attempt to reinforce the ad- 
vanced position was defeated. After a strenuous 
quarter of an hour, two-thirds of its defenders lay 
dead or wounded ; who of the survivors could run, 
did so ; and the battery was in the hands of the State 
army. But now, the spot having been abandoned 
by their own side, the Federal artillerists had their 
chance. From hill-slope and sea, they swept the 
battery with a hail of shell. As quickly as relays of 
horses could be brought up to remove the conquered 
guns, they were shot down. At last men hitched 
themselves to the guns, trying to drag them away, 



CIVIL WAR IN AUSTRALIA 267 

but they too, were mowed down in ranks. The posi- 
tion had become untenable. So the battery was 
wrecked with bombs. Then the State troops re- 
treated, and the oncoming darkness saved them 
from further losses. 

The terrible struggle of the afternoon left both 
armies in possession of the lines occupied by them at 
its beginning. General Morthill held a council of 
war, which resolved that the further advance of the 
Commonwealth should be contested inch by inch. 
Trenches were thrown up during the night. The 
State troops derived considerable encouragement 
from the arrival of reinforcements, belated portions 
of the Eastern division which had operated against 
Colonel Ireton. These, after the supposed annihila- 
of the miners, had thoroughly destroyed several 
miles of the Kalgoorlie railway. Not the slightest 
danger, therefore, was apprehended from that 
quarter. 

All this time, Colonel Ireton was making a forced 
march across the Darling Range, that low cordillera 
unsurpassable in tristness, barrenness and steep- 
ness. His division passed the first night on a high 
hill near the junction of the gullies through which, 
in wet seasons, the waters rush which then form 
Helena River. About sunset on the second day they 
crossed the railway south of Kelmscott. The roar 
of the guns, twelve miles away, was plainly audible. 
Farms dot the country hereabouts, but the miners 
were not regarded with suspicion. Everybody took 
them for a Southern contingent which had been 
compelled, owing to the wholesale railway destruc- 
tions, to make this short cut to the sea. Thus no 
warnings reached Perth in time. Just while the 
mortal combat round the advanced battery was at 
its height, two orderlies sent forward by Colonel 
Ireton reported themselves to the Federal Com- 



268 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

mander-in-chief . Officers departed hurriedly to con- 
fer with the Colonel. It was arranged that the 
miners should spend the night near a pond, still eight 
miles from the battlefield, so that the men and 
horses might be quite refreshed and fit for the great 
task before them. Many messengers passed be- 
tween the two Federal camps in the dark hours, and 
the plan of action in the morning was perfected. 

At dawn the Commander-in-Chief informed his 
army that Colonel Ireton would attack the enemy 
without delay. The news caused unbounded joy. 
Soon the frontal battle was renewed with undimin- 
ished vigour, but the Western Australians planted 
firmly on a bush-covered ridge behind trenches 
repulsed every effort, and their ten guns, three to- 
wards the sea, three in the centre and four on the 
Eastern wing, replied uninterruptedly to the fierce 
cannonade of the Commonwealth artillery. Three 
hours elapsed, and still the Federals had made no 
headway. Many anxious eyes and ears were strain- 
ing for a sign from the miners. 

Colonel Ireton proceeded with the deliberation 
of a man sure of success. Leading his little army 
right into the rear of the State position upon the 
road from Clarence to Freemantle, he concealed an 
ambush of 400 men in a forest patch. The re- 
mainder of his troops silently enveloped the eastern 
wing of the West Australians. Suddenly 1,500 rifles 
burst into flames in flank and back of the Rebels. 
A thundering charge of cavalry flung aside the rear 
guards, rode down the detachments covering the 
eastern battery, and conquered the four guns, 
among wild shouts of " Colonel Ireton ! The 
Miners ! " Throwing round the guns, the miners 
opened fire at point-blank range upon the State 
centre, supported by a deadly fusillade. Further 
south, the Federals broke into frantic cheering, 



CIVIL WAR IN AUSTRALIA 269 

hurling themselves upon the trenches where they 
no longer met with resistance, and exerting the 
pressure of victorious thousands upon the waver- 
ing enemy. Nothing could stop the panic in the 
State ranks. General Morthill tried to save his re- 
maining guns and to organize a retreat. For a few 
moments he revived the courage of his immediate fol- 
lowers by his personal heroism. In vain. Quickly 
he fell, mortally wounded, fighting valiantly to the 
last. It was the signal for his troops to begin throw- 
ing away arms and to stampede, a lawless rabble, 
towards Freemantle. But the ambuscade soon barred 
their progress. Behind the Federals pursued hotly. 
No quarter was given. Only very few of the van- 
quished, who had the presence of mind to capture 
riderless horses, arrived at the port before the 
victors. 

The chief instigators of Western Australian re- 
sistance had proceeded on the previous day to Free- 
mantle, where they would be nearer the scene of 
action. As soon as they heard of the defeat, they 
rushed to the river and surrendered themselves to 
the commander of the British cruiser. This officer 
thus found himself in a most uncomfortable posi- 
tion. He had, of course, been friendly with these 
men. And now they threw themselves upon his 
mercy. He knew that the Commonwealth authori- 
ties would be furious if he gave them shelter. But 
he also knew that Great Britain always protected 
political refugees. So he allowed them to stay on 
board until he should have consulted his superiors 
by cable. While terror stalked the cities and 
every acre for fifteen miles south was red with the 
blood of victimized patriots, the ringleaders, whose 
blunders and obstinacy were responsible for every- 
thing, were out of immediate danger. 

By noon Freemantle was completely in the hands 



270 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

of the Federals, who hurried on, by rail and road, 
to the capital. Perth offered no further resistance. 
Colonel Ireton, at the head of his mounted miners, 
was the first to enter it — a fine compliment paid him 
by the Commander-in-Chief. His men were quar- 
tered in the General Post Office and he himself was 
the guest of the State Governor, whose authority 
for the last few weeks had been more nominal than 
ever, all the most important and far-reaching mea- 
sures having been ordered in the form of depart- 
mental instructions issued by General Morthill. A 
proclamation was fixed at the principal street corners 
guaranteeing the safety of private citizens, but 
stating that every one who should be taken prisoner 
in State uniform after sunrise next morning would be 
dealt with summarily. 

The State army, as an organized force, had ceased 
to exist. During the afternoon and evening, its 
scattered units continued to pour into the outskirts 
of Perth. The more orderly elements who lived there 
or had friends or relatives near, destroyed their uni- 
forms and reassumed common garb. Others bought 
or begged or, in the general confusion commanded 
ordinary clothing and set out for the country. But 
a more reckless or patriotic remnant refused to sub- 
mit so quietly. There was a small nucleus of re- 
sistance left. Several companies of the reserve who 
had remained in the capital and its port on police 
duty or for supervision of the supplies service, had 
retreated to Guildford, that rural suburb of Perth, 
at the first news of the disaster. Here they were 
joined by numbers of Irreconcilables. At first they 
had no common aim. But a former Federal officer, 
who had violated his oath by fighting for his State 
and was quite aware that no mercy would be ex- 
tended to him and his kind, proposed that they 
should retreat to the northern farming district and 



CIVIL WAR IN AUSTRALIA 271 

carry on their defence from there, as all avenues of 
escape by sea were cut off. Of course, only horse- 
men could take this risk. Moreover, it was import- 
ant that they should be provided with the neces- 
saries of life, with victuals, spare clothing, money 
and valuables. These could be had at Guildford, 
but not for the asking. For the terrified inhabi- 
tants, trembling for their own skins, did no long'er 
look with favour upon a soldiery which was import- 
ant to protect them. 

There was no time for parley. What was not given 
voluntarily, the Irreconcilables seized by force. 
Where resolute men defended their property arms 
in hand, blood was shed. All the fury and despair 
of the losers broke out in a final orgy. Soon the 
flames of pretty residences towered against the 
midnight sky, like giant torches in honour of civil 
war. Happily, the horror did not last long. Colonel 
Ireton, roused from the first comfortable sleep which 
he had enjoyed for months, came to the rescue of 
sacked Guildford. An ever brightening glare in the 
east directed his march. After a short, sharp en- 
counter with the completely surprised Irreconcilables 
those of the latter, who had their horses handy, got 
away. The less fortunate ones were shot. And 
the deliverers spent the small hours fighting the 
flames. 

For the next week, the Commander-in-Chief, in 
his capacity as Federal High-Commissioner, was 
kept busy reorganizing the civil government of 
Western Australia. His task was not easy, as all 
the leading men of the State had fled the country, 
or were dead or in hiding. Military officers filled 
the most important posts temporarily. The first 
practical work was the repair of the railways and the 
despatch of provisions to the Goldfields. Colonel 
Ireton was sent on a special mission to Kalgoorlie 



272 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

to convey the thanks of the Commonwealth to the 
loyal miners and, incidentally, to supervise the 
transport of the enormous quantities of gold piled up 
during the interruption of the coastal train service. 

Later, the Colonel was employed to stamp out 
the last embers of the rebellion. Troops were trans- 
ported by sea to Dongara and Geraldtown. Ar- 
moured trains were fitting to control the northern 
line. A war of extermination was waged against 
the Irreconcilables who were commanded by former 
Federal officers who had sided with the State. These 
held out for weeks in inaccessible localities on the 
fringe of the farming districts. But their wants 
soon reduced them to stock-raiding and other pre- 
datory practices, with the result that in the end the 
whole countryside made common cause against 
them, and so the last phase of the fratricidal struggle 
deteriorated into a man hunt away in the backblocks 
north of Perth and the southern districts, full of 
heroic incidents, but devoid of historical interest 
except as far as serving, by reason of its sordidness 
and cruelty, to extinguish thoroughly any lingering 
sympathy which the coastal population might still 
cherish for the lost cause of Western Austraha. 

Like all civil wars within civilized communities, 
the rebellion was marked by extreme bloodiness. 
Considered relatively, the sacrifice of life had scarcely 
ever been equalled. Of the Federal regular forces, 
about 1,200 men were killed and nearly twice as 
many wounded. The casualties of the army of the 
interior were even higher ; it is computed that 3,500 
miners died in battle or perished afterwards. The 
State army is said to have lost 7,000 men, though no 
doubt many of the wounded recovered under the 
care of their friends. These numbers do not include 
the victims of the campaign against the Irreconcil- 
ables, whose last stand was literally smothered in 



CIVIL WAR IN AUSTRALIA 273 

blood. Altogether, it is hardly an exaggeration to 
place the deathroll at over ten thousand. Such a 
sacrifice of Anglo-Saxon life had not been contem- 
plated for generations. And the entire population 
of the mutinous Coast did not reach 150,000 souls ! 

Yet terrible as the ordeal was, it had its uses. 
It removed for ever the contention that the Continent 
lacked internal stability. Parochial politicians 
had so often played with the idea of secession that 
the world had become doubtful whether Federation 
expressed the true sentiment of the Australian 
people. The energy with which the struggle for 
mastery had been conducted and the rapid, com- 
plete victory of the Commonwealth provided the 
answer. The lesson had been taught that no back- 
sliders were tolerated, and that Australia was indivis- 
ible. 

All eyes turned now on the Federal Parliament, 
the sole arbiter over the fate of the West Coast. 
Contrary to the fears of many, the ruling majority, 
though dominated by the Extremists, showed wise 
moderation. Complete amnesty was granted to 
the rank and file who would join the Commonwealth 
colours within a month from date of proclamation 
This extended to the irregular officers, with thelimitr 
tion that these were to be transferred to the Eastei 
States and enlisted there without regard to their 
former rank in the rebel army, a humiliation miti- 
gated, however, by the promise that they would be 
allowed, after a while, to qualify for promotion by 
examination. All private citizens, who would take 
within a month a new oath of allegiance to the Com- 
monwealth before specially appointed commissions, 
were granted immunity from prosecution for any 
poHtical or military acts in connexion with the late 
insurrection which might become known subse- 
quently. 

A.C. S 



274 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

Excepted from the general pardon were Federal 
officers who had violated their oath by fight- 
ing for the State. Much might be said in excuse 
for their transgression, but it was considered ad- 
visable to make a warning example of them. That 
these men were quite conscious of the enormity of 
their offence is proved by the fact that not one of 
them surrendered to the mercy of the victors. 
Penalty of death was pronounced against them. It 
was in reality superfluous ; for the survivors had all 
joined the Irreconcilables, who were shot without 
trial whenever caught. 

Throughout Austraha, the sheltering of the ring- 
leaders of the revolt on board a British cruiser was 
resented bitterly. Melbourne at once opened negotia- 
tions with London for their extradition. But the 
English Government refused to do so on the 
ground that their crime was political. 

In vain the Federal Executive urged against 
this contention that the refugees were British sub- 
jects who had committed high treason, not for- 
eigners worthy of protection against tyranny. To 
cut short the dispute, the cruiser was ordered to 
Colombo, where the fugitives were landed. So 
they escaped the felon's death, and Parliament had 
to discover other means of punishment. Their 
private estates were declared to have reverted to the 
Commonwealth inclusive of all rights and future 
benefits to which the former owners and holders 
might be entitled. In this way the nation became 
possessed of much city and country property in the 
West, as well as of a large amount of money, valuable 
mining interests and other securities. However, 
generous provision was made for the families of the 
culprits ; wives were granted annuities of ;^200 each, 
with an addition of ;^5 per year for each child 
under age. But a very important restriction was 



CIVIL WAR IN AUSTRALIA 275 

inserted : the recipients of such annuities were bound 
to reside in Australia. Thus the escapees were 
deprived of re-union with their famiUes, or, as an 
alternative, the latter forfeited all claims of finan- 
cial support. 

Under the firm management of the Commander- 
in-Chief, order in West Australia was being restored. 
Life began to return to its ordinary channels ; men 
again schemed and toiled for wealth. The removal 
of so many leading citizens had made room in front 
for others ; and in the renewed vigour of business 
people strove to forget the hideous memories of the 
recent past. But this was impossible while military 
government continually reminded them of it. 
Therefore, genuine joy and gratitude was felt when 
it became known that a Civil High Commissioner 
had been appointed (October 30), and that, more- 
over, the choice had fallen upon a fellow-citizen, 
who in the days before Federation had been the 
idol of Western Austraha and whose sympathies 
for his own State were above suspicion. 

Timely relentlessness, then, as timely forgiveness, 
had restored — for ever, it is to be hoped — the unity 
of the Commonwealth. 



CHAPTER V 

GREAT BRITAIN GARRISONS THE NORTHERN TERRITORY 

EVER since the closure of the Northern Terri- 
tory Coast the British Government had been 
anxious to extend its control right over the district 
invaded by the Japanese. It is doubtful whether 
it was prompted by its ally ; if so, the latter must 
have felt somewhat fearful of the White Guard, then 
on its march ; and the eagerness, calmness and 
destructive thoroughness with which that body was 
met rather discount this assumption. Quite possi- 
bly the English Cabinet was moved entirely by a 
desire to achieve some progress regarding the in- 
terminable Australian entanglement, not only from 
reasons of Imperial import, but also from party- 
tactical considerations. So many signs were laid 
at its door by an amiable Opposition — estrangement 
of the Colonies, insecurity of foreign policy, financial 
weakness — that it was about time Ministers should 
score on their part, if they did not wish to be over- 
whelmed politically. The difficulty was to find a 
method which could be represented to the Home 
electors as tending towards a final settlement while 
meeting also with Australian applause. 

The Imperial statesmen found themselves in a 
tight corner. Though the masses of the people, in 
their present temper, would have applauded any 
pressure put upon Australia, it would have been 
very unsafe to rely too much on the fact. As soon 

276 



GREAT BRITAIN GARRISONS NORTH 277 

as calmness would prevail once more) everybody 
would be forced to admit that it was not the Common- 
wealth which had started the trouble, though its 
methods of dealing with it might be considered ob- 
jectionable. Democracy is always sure to turn back 
from its extreme moods and to crush in the process 
the tools which gratified them. Apart from this 
danger, fully recognized by the astute managers of 
the party in power, it is certain that these were 
honest patriots and quite willing to help forward 
the cause of Australia as long as such a course did 
not imperil the delicate balance of international 
forces upon which their world-policy rested. 

The Federal intimation that compensation would 
be granted to the sufferers from the anti-colour 
riots, on condition that the Japanese would leave 
the Northern Territory, was made by London the 
base of negotiations with Tokio, which was informed 
that the justice of its protests and claims would 
be greatly enhanced in the eyes of civilized human- 
ity, if the immigrants, who had in effect broken 
the laws of the community entered by them, would 
be repatriated. In exchange for this graceful 
re-arrangement, Great Britain promised that it 
would use all its influence to mitigate the severity 
of the Commonwealth enactments against Asiatics. 

But the Japanese very naturally preferred the 
bird in hand, and pointed once more to the famine 
existing in their provinces, as rendering impossible 
the proposed step. London retorted that nobody 
asked them to return the refugees to the districts 
whence they had come originally, while in the Island 
of Formosa and on the mainland fertile, thinly 
settled lands abounded. In reply, the advisers of 
the Mikado stuck to their batch of old excuses. 
Their ally was quite right, and even as was sug- 
gested, they did unceasingly. Consequently, all 



378 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

resources were strained to breaking point in the 
effort of hurrying famishing hordes to salvation in 
those inviting spaces. However, there was a Hmit ; 
it would be criminal to dump larger numbers 
without preparations and provisions to keep them 
alive. Others would be doomed to perdition, if a 
check was applied in favour of outsiders who were 
well off where they were now. 

It seems that the British Government went so 
far as to propose unofficially that the Imperial 
Exchequer should bear a share of the repatriation 
expenses, in recognition of the economic crisis 
which Japan was just passing through. But Tokio, 
on the ground that it would be more merciful to 
shoot the thousands of refugees than to kill them by 
slow starvation, refused definitely to agree to their 
removal, insisting that they were interfering with no- 
body's rights. Moreover, it revived the offer regarding 
the transfer of allegiance. Nothing was gained by the 
diplomatic effort, except that Japan did not choose 
to push any further its claims for an indemnity and 
satisfaction from the Commonwealth. Meanwhile, 
the control of the Northern Territory waters was quite 
one-sided. It was absolutely preventive with regard 
to Australia navigation. But if the stories of naval 
men, since retired, can be believed at all, there is 
no doubt that the restrictions were merely formal 
as far as Japan was concerned. Steamers under 
the ensign of the Rising Sun were always hovering 
about the prohibited coast, ostensibly employed 
to convey stores and love-gifts from their native 
country to the " famishing exiles." So much has 
been admitted, in fact, by members of the English 
Cabinet, who have stated in Parliament that out 
of humanitarian considerations the supply of pro- 
visions to the settlement had been permitted, 
because such large numbers could not support 



GREAT BRITAIN GARRISONS NORTH 279 

themselves in the wilderness from the outset, and 
because, as long as their presence was tolerated, 
it would have been an impossible cruelty to let 
them starve. Apparently the indulgence was 
carried to the extent that the Japanese vessels 
were never searched and that nobody watched 
their movements closely. Under the circumstances 
it can be imagined easily how the cunning Orien- 
tals may have taken advantage of the laxity. 
Not only the manifold necessaries and even luxuries 
of life in an uncultivated country were imported, 
but also arms, ammunition, more men, and lastly 
the women who had formed part of the original 
settlement in Formosa and were to bring forth 
shortly a new generation, heirs by birthright of 
the new land. 

Perhaps the British Government received, 
about the end of July, some special information 
which made it desirous of exercising, after all, a 
closer supervision. At all events, it proposed to 
the Federal authorities that an Imperial garrison 
should be placed in the Northern Territory. At 
first Melbourne would not hear of this, suspecting, 
no doubt, that a wish to interfere with the move- 
ments of the White Guard lay at the bottom of 
the suggestion. Moreover, its materiahzation 
would have looked very much like the establish- 
ment of a British protectorate over a province of the 
Commonwealth. But time passed, and nothing 
became known of any brilliant achievements on 
the part of the White Guard. Then came the 
revolt of Western Australia, and the turmoil and 
convulsion of that great crisis seemed likely to tax 
the resources of the Federation to the utmost for 
a long period. At this juncture London renewed 
its proposition and undertook, in proof of its good 
faith, to issue a declaration to Tokio, stating that the 



28o BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

occupation of the Japanese settlement by an Imperial 
garrison would be on behalf of and without pre- 
judice to the sovereign rights of the Commonwealth. 
As an additional bait it was hinted that the occupa- 
tion would prepare the way for a later substitution 
of the Federal garrison after the restoration of law 
and order throughout the Continent. Probably 
this last suggestion induced the Federal Govern- 
ment to consent. After some further negotiations, 
Great Britain gained its point. No time was lost in 
giving effect to the agreement. 

On October i, 1912, a force of 400 marines, drawn 
from Singapore, landed in Junction Bay. Two days 
earlier the Imperial Government had addressed the 
note to Tokio, which had been formulated as the 
pre-requisite of the occupation. The advisers of 
the Mikado confined themselves to a courteous 
acknowledgement. And the Japanese settlers wel- 
comed the garrison among great rejoicings. For 
nearly a week the most suspicious landmark in the 
wilderness was the Union Jack, which, on its pole, 
seemed to be their most cultivated plant. The 
fort in the centre of the main village was given 
up to the marines as barracks — the same block of 
buildings upon which little more than a month ago 
the doomed heroes of the White Guard had gazed 
with eyes burning and mortal hatred in their hearts. 
Everything was done to make the new occupants 
comfortable. Very soon the headmen, quiet citizens 
in shabby European dress as befitted honorary 
magistrates of a struggling community, paid calls 
to do homage to the English officers, for whom, 
afterwards, a gay round of life began. The Japan- 
ese, with childlike blandness, quickly won their 
hearts : what a good impression the members of 
the garrison gained is plainly discernible in the 
books and articles written by some of them. 



GREAT BRITAIN GARRISONS NORTH 281 

Sport, of course, was the chief means of combating 
the dullness of the sojourn so far from civilization. 
Nearly every form of it could be had in a district 
abounding with animal life, some of it not alto- 
gether harmless. A coolie was told off as body- 
servant for each officer, and others were ready to obey 
their orders, happy as kings at the magnificent 
remuneration of a shilling per day. But the rank 
and file were not forgotten either. Plenty of 
amusements were provided for them also ; they 
had even the advantage of their officers, for no 
settler would dream of expecting payment for 
voluntary assistance rendered. An Anglo-Japan- 
ese cricket-match was arranged and went in favour 
of the British, as might have been guessed. In 
water sports, however, the Japanese more than held 
their own. At one end of the capital several 
houses of pleasure catered for the men, at whose 
command was a considerable number of lubras of 
all ages and some Malay women. Later, several 
geishas lent variety to the charms. A more select 
establishment in another quarter was reserved 
for the officers. 

In spite of so many diversions, the garrison found 
leisure to explore the district thoroughly. It had 
the guidance of Japanese dignitaries who explained 
everything. Nevertheless, in the voluminous re- 
ports of the commanding Lieutenant-Colonel not 
many fresh facts are brought to light. They 
are marvels of exactness, but their compiler did 
not view things with those " eyes full of suspicion " 
which enabled Thomas Burt to discover so many 
formidable defence works. The British were, and 
felt, safe with friends. That has to be remem- 
bered at perusal of their despatches. The breast- 
high ramparts behind ditches must have appeared 
to these observers as mere lines of demarcation, 



382 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

and the logs placed cunningly to provide shelter 
passages as trees felled for timber or firewood, 
for nowhere are these features alluded to as possible 
fortifications. Some comment, however, is made 
with regard to the exceeding solidness of the houses, 
built not of boards but of stout timber, forming the 
outer ring of the villages. 

There is nothing but praise on the state of the 
cultivations and the good condition of stock. 
" Apart from the race question," the Lieutenant- 
Colonel sums up in one report, " there can be no 
doubt that these industrious settlers have done 
a great service by their careful cultivation and 
methodical penetration of the wilderness." In an- 
other one he says : " Judging from what I have 
seen, not only in the central settlement, but in and 
around the outlying villages, I must state that 
English colonists, working individually, could hardly 
have done better. Occasionally an experienced 
farmer might have done better in some particular, 
but there would not have been such systematic 
thoroughness. The immigrants are eager to ask 
advice, and now that they have become better 
acquainted with us, they are glad of any casual hint 
which helps them to improve on their work. Un- 
fortunately,'' he continues, " the poor fellows 
do not always seem to be sufficiently educated 
to grasp our meaning, and persist in going on as 
they did before." The Commandant shows that 
he has not grasped the working of the Japanese 
mind nor its method of cloaking iron tenacity under 
bland, seemingly yielding civility, or he would not 
have made such a refreshingly artless remark. He 
mentions that a quarter of the capital was being 
reconstructed at the time of his arrival after having 
been destroyed by fire ; also, that during his wan- 
derings he came across several burnt-out villages. 



GREAT BRITAIN GARRISONS NORTH 283 

No doubt these were the places burnt by the White 
Guard. But that struggle, or any fight against 
white men, was never alluded to by the Japanese 
in the presence of the British. Probably the 
garrison, fresh from Singapore, had either not heard 
of, or paid no attention to, the rumours at this early 
period. 

Yet one fact impressed even the unsuspecting 
Lieutenant-Colonel : the complete absence of any 
male aboriginals, while so many native women were 
about. Inquiries on this subject evoked a rather 
feeble reply on the part of the Japanese. The 
lubras, they said, had been sold to them by 
their relatives, who, however, could not immediately 
enjoy life on the proceeds because the supply of 
tobacco and liquor to the blacks was prohibited. 
Therefore the latter had probably departed to the 
vicinity of Port Darwin, where they would have 
better opportunities. Others had always been 
shy of approaching the settlements, being afraid 
that they would be forced to work. But these 
stories, no doubt, were made up. It is not difficult to 
imagine why the presence of the male natives must 
have been inconvenient to the immigrants. The 
fellows had seen too much and might begin to 
boast of it to the British as soon as they should have 
discovered, with natural cunning, that the white and 
yellow races were really opposed to each other in 
spite of momentary friendliness. Moreover, the 
blacks were no longer useful as guides, since the 
country had been explored thoroughly, nor as 
subsidiaries, now that no further attacks were 
apprehended. On the other hand they might 
have become troublesome enemies in the bush. 
That possibility had to be guarded against. Prob- 
ably the Japanese copied the example of the White 
Guard and butchered the male aboriginals. 



284 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

However, the British accepted the explanation 
of their fellow-subjects of the second degree. As 
was the case all through, nobody felt called upon 
to push independent investigations. Some excep- 
tions to the rule, men who had grown somewhat 
suspicious, perhaps on account of vague tales of 
the lubras, were discouraged ofhcially to pursue too 
far adventurous quests, which it was by no means 
their duty to engage in. Imperial troops had to 
preserve above all England's old reputation of deal- 
ing fairly by Asiatics. A prying poUcy among 
people who showed every confidence and friend- 
ship would not have been in account with this aim. 
The moderation had its reward. The longer the 
garrison stayed the more British interests bene- 
fited, and the popularity of the Empire became 
even more pronounced among the brown candidates 
for citizenship under the Union Jack. 



CHAPTER VI 

A TRANSFORMATION SCENE IN THE NORTH. 

THE Imperial garrison had hardly arrived in 
the Japanese settlement when the Federal 
Government began to regret that it had ever con- 
sented to its establishment. It had done so in the 
belief that the internal dissensions in Austraha 
would be prolonged. The rapid and complete 
triumphs of the Commonwealth army had proved 
the wrongness of that assumption. Immediately 
after the occupation of Perth, the Federal Execu- 
tive cabled to London that it was now prepared to 
garrison and to police the Northern Territory with 
Australian troops. But Great Britain was not at 
all pleased with the offer and objected that Austraha 
was stiU practically at war with Japan. Melbourne, 
however, hastened to deny the existence of a state 
of war as strongly as it had insisted on it a few 
months ago. Tempora mutantur. 

Every report of the excellent relations between 
the garrison and the invaders increased the disgust 
of the Commonwealth patriots, whose secret hopes 
that the Imperial force would serve as an exponent 
of white supremacy were quickly superseded by 
suspicions that the whole display was more in the 
way of a compliment to the Japanese than a 
measure of protest against their claims. The Ex- 
tremists, particularly, professed deep anxiety lest 



286 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

the British statesmen should be encouraged 
by the exemplary friendliness which had sprung 
up between their soldiers and the public enemy 
of Australia to make permanent the present arrange- 
ment. Under the constant pressure from all sides, 
the Federal Government continued to urge its 
request. Its main point was that London had 
promised the substitution of Australians, and that 
otherwise the Commonwealth would not have 
acquiesced in the matter at all. 

Great Britain was very unwilling to withdraw 
its men. At the same time, however, its rulers 
had learnt by the experience of the past half-year and 
were not at all desirous of further colonial quarrels. 
Already the temper of the great southern depend- 
ency grew very ugly over this affair. Press and 
politicians there threatened that Federal troops 
would be sent into the invaded district even without 
Imperial permission, and that England would be 
given a chance to prove whether it would dare to 
interfere with Australian actions on Australian soil. 
If so, then, it was pointed out, let Canada look to it 
that it might not be treated one day after the same 
fashion in Columbia, or New Zealand in the North 
Island, or South Africa in any of its own large pos- 
sessions. In fact, here were all the materials for 
another national explosion in all the autonomous 
dominions, cowed as they were for the moment. 
Faced by these awful possibilities. Great Britain 
felt inclined to yield, especially as the Common- 
wealth merely proposed to place a garrison in the 
Northern Territory, not an army. 

But there was another factor which had to be 
reckoned with — the Japanese Government. Though 
no doubt well informed about the new Federal 
demand, it maintained a correct silence, any arrange- 
ment about the Northern Territory being clearly 



A TRANSFORMATION SCENE IN NORTH 287 

an internal affair in which only the Empire and the 
Commonwealth were concerned. An opportunity to 
speak their mind, however, came to the discreet 
advisers of the Mikado when the impending change 
was communicated to them by the allied power. 
Then Tokio, calm and courteous as usual, mentioned 
its misgivings. It recognized that it had no voice 
in the matter, but asked to be allowed to express 
regret that its former subjects should lose a protective 
force which had shown them so much kindness, 
and also to utter a hope that the successors would 
cultivate similar good feeling. Only thus the full 
benefits of the labour of the immigrants could be 
secured for their adopted country. For the refugees 
were proud of their race and conscious of the service 
they were rendering to humanity by civilizing the 
wilderness. They were also very sensitive, a 
quality which they shared with all Japanese, for 
whose resentment of irritation or insults nobody 
could accept responsibility, least of all their own 
Government, which was only too painfully aware 
of this particular national failing. 

The Imperial authorities did not hesitate to cable 
a full account of the diplomatic pronouncement, so 
carefully veiled in its language and yet so ominous, 
to Melbourne. But the Commonwealth was bent 
on having its way, and London did not care to op- 
pose its demand much longer. Hardly had the 
consent been gained when two crack steamers of 
the Federal fleet were raced from Adelaide, where 
they had beeen overhauled, to Perth. There 
Colonel Ireton embarked with a large special staff 
of the most energetic and promising officers and 350 
picked men, who had all been through the Western 
campaign (November 2, 1912). The whole force 
proceeded by sea directly to the Northern Territory 
and arrived at the mouth of the inlet, on which the 



288 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

Japanese main settlement was situated, on the 
morning of November ii. On the same day the 
British garrison evacuated the fort for their succes- 
sors and was taken by the Federal steamers to Port 
Darwin, whence they returned to Singapore. Both 
these vessels were fitted with wireless telegraphy. 
One anchored in the harbour of Port Darwin, the 
other in the inlet leading to the fort. In this way 
Colonel Ireton was in practically uninterrupted 
communication with headquarters in Melbourne. 
The Japanese settlers extended an outwardly 
cordial welcome to the new garrison. They sported 
once more their large stock of Union Jacks. But 
the Australians were less appreciative than their 
precedessors and refused to salute the flag, the use 
of which by the aliens was, speaking strictly, im- 
proper. Moreover, as soon as they had entered 
into possession of the fort, they lowered the British 
ensign flying over it, which had originally been 
supplied by the Japanese, and unfurled the Common- 
wealth banner. The significance of these actions 
was not misunderstood by the ceremonious Orientals. 
The friendly services of the polite brown men, so 
highly valued by Tommy Atkins, were now rarely 
asked and always paid for, a practice which re- 
duced the mutual relations between the two races 
to cold formality and prevented absolutely the 
growth of a better understanding. Colonel Ireton 
did not regret this development. He had his 
instructions. The encouragement of fraternizing 
tactics was not mentioned in them. His garrison 
was expected to show plainly by its conduct who was 
the sovereign of the country. His duty was to 
explore the invaded district thoroughly, to gain an 
intimate knowledge of the enemy's methods and 
resources and, if possible, some insight into his 
further plans ; in a word, to prepare everything 



A TRANSFORMATION SCENE IN NORTH 289 

for the ultimate campaign. And he set to work 
upon his task with rare zeal. 

Many reports compiled by the Colonel or members 
of his staff, dealing with the subject, very detailed 
and from every conceivable point of view, are now 
in the Federal archives. Through all of them 
runs the same note of astonishment at the efficiency 
of the Japanese organization which is also sounded 
in the official reports of the British garrison, though 
the Australian comments are more subdued and 
tinged with a bitterness reminiscent of Thomas 
Burt's diary. Great changes, of course, had taken 
place since the latter was written. The soothing 
influence of womanhood, of motherhood, was now 
penetrating the whole settlement. Numbers of 
children were born there daily. Perhaps no other 
fact did more to deepen the coolness between the 
two races into revengeful estrangement. For the 
Australians, who keenly missed appropriate sex 
partnership of their own race, watched helplessly 
the rapid progress of the despised Asiatics from a 
mere horde of invading nomads into a settled na- 
tion bound to the conquered soil by the most sacred 
ties — by httle brown babies quite unconscious of 
their own significance, all young Austrahans — Aus- 
tral-Mongoloids. And the white heirs to the Con- 
tinent had to stand by impassively, condemned to 
look on and to record the event. Contrary to 
ordinary Oriental customs, the women were splen- 
didly cared for. They were forbidden field work 
and other hard tasks. District medical officers 
made regular rounds several times a week through 
all dwellings, and in the capital the married couples 
frequently assembled in the Pubhc Hall to hear 
lectures in their own language, probably on sex 
hygiene and the treatment of infants. Evidently 
the Japanese authorities had thoroughly mastered, 

A.C. T 



290 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

and were not afraid to carry into practice, the 
principle that pubUc health and the protection of 
child-Ufe before and after birth is the first duty and 
the grandest asset of a progressive State. 

The neighbourhood of the main settlement had 
been cleared for miles from bush and jungle : irriga- 
tion had turned swampy lagoons into paddyfields 
protected by strong embankments at the mouth 
against the brackish water of the inlet. A mixed 
system of farming had been devised. Each family 
owned a plot of some acres which the proprietor 
cultivated individually and the produce of which 
belonged to him. But large areas of the richest 
agricultural and pastoral land were reserved near 
each village and were worked by gangs of the male 
inhabitants, who had to give their services in regular 
rotation once or twice a week. These gangs were 
also employed to clear the country and to make 
roads. And they did the harvesting both in the 
private and public blocks, under the leadership of 
the elders, who directed them in such a way as the 
condition of the fields seemed to demand, without 
fear or favour of individuals. Such a system was 
possible only for a highly enlightened race or for a 
slavishly disciplined one. While it lasted it must 
beat out of sight any results obtainable by indi- 
viduaHstic white colonization. The Turanians bade 
fair to establish a record which Aryan people would 
be unable to equal. If they were allowed to go on, 
their claims to possession would become ever stronger 
by right of their achievements. 

That the invaders had no intention of leaving 
Australia was evident from the diligence with 
which they made themselves at home. Several 
roads were made connecting the capital with the 
outlying settlements and the latter among each 
other. Their construction was soHd though rough. 



A TRANSFORMATION SCENE IN NORTH 291 

and they led over the high ground, wherever 
possible, so that they were little exposed to dam- 
age by floods in the wet season. Where swamps 
had to be crossed, the roads had been steadied with 
logs, and light wooden bridges, easy of repair or re- 
newal, were thrown over creeks. Then there was 
the network of telegraph lines. It was really 
difficult now to get lost in the district, which less 
than a year ago had been an impenetrable wilder- 
ness. 

Relentless war was waged by the Japanese against 
vermin ; thus they justified their possession of 
arms. They drove away the romance of the 
tropical bush, and wherever they went they created 
an atmosphere of hard work-a-day reality. But 
this was the inevitable result of civilization, which 
at last had come in triumphantly in spite of the 
Australians who had hesitated too long about it. 
The wholesale destruction of game in the vicinity 
of the main settlement compelled the garrison to 
rely for its food supply almost entirely upon Port 
Darwin, where Federal depots had been established. 
Several vessels catered for this service, and com- 
bined with this open purpose the more secret one of 
closely watching the coast. 

The Japanese possessed two steam launches, a 
cutter and half a dozen whale boats. A wharf 
was under construction for building more small craft 
locally. The timber was derived from the opposite 
shore of the inlets about two miles further up, where 
thick forest shpped down nearly to the water's 
edge. In this locality a saw miU was situated. 
That was not the only factory. Near the wharf a 
flour mill was in course of erection, though the 
machinery had not yet arrived. Around it several 
large stores for the collection of surplus produce had 
already been finished. Each stood isolated, sur- 



292 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

rounded by a high earth rampart and a ditch filled 
with water. These were the largest buildings in 
the capital, with the exception of the central offi- 
ces, the headquarters of the district and municipal 
authorities and the terminus of all the telegraph 
lines. In an adjoining outhouse, a steam engine, 
coupled to a dynamo, furnished the necessary elec- 
tricity. The public hall was another large edifice 
and appeared to serve both as a temple and a lecture- 
room, where often in the evenings addresses were 
delivered to crowded audiences. As the Japanese 
language was employed exclusively, the whites had 
not even a decent excuse for being present. The 
purpose of these meetings, however, seemed to be quite 
harmless ; apparently they dealt chiefly with de- 
monstrations on agricultural subjects, such as 
irrigation and the use of modern implements. 

Though the discipline of the invaders was mar- 
vellous, they were managed so discreetly and their 
authorities dispensed with pomp and circumstance 
to such a degree that it was difficult to discover the 
real rulers. Colonel Ireton observed that much 
deference was paid by the multitude to the medical 
officers, which conduct is quite intelligible in the 
light of subsequent revelations regarding the part 
played by them in Formosa. But he soon noticed 
that they, too, received orders in turn from higher 
instances. At the head of the whole organization 
stood a board of five Elders, as they named them- 
selves in English. Every member of this set seemed 
to wield equal power. In their dealings with the 
Australians, they consulted together about every 
step. The Board of Five was the final court of 
justice and inflicted capital punishment. Many 
of its responsibilities, however, were transferred 
upon the Headmen, who governed each quarter of 
the main settlement and every village. These 



A TRANSFORMATION SCENE IN NORTH 293 

again were assisted by small councils of the most 
worthy citizens. No military display was indulged 
in ; although all the inhabitants of the capital owned 
rifles, they never underwent any warlike training 
within the knowledge of the Federal garrison for 
the whole period during which the latter resided in 
their midst. Nevertheless it is probable that at 
least one or two high mihtary officers served in the 
Board of Five, that every headman was a staff officer, 
and that the village councils consisted in reahty 
largely of former non-commissioned officers. Every- 
thing, in fact, was calculated to preserve discipline 
and to prepare defence. 

After a fortnight of strenuous work. Colonel Ireton 
was able to draw a map of the invaded district, in 
which, besides the capital, seventeen outlying vil- 
lages are shown, the nearest about twelve miles 
and the most distant over ninety miles away from 
that centre. He computed the population from 
the number of private dwellings, which were as a 
rule tenanted each by a family consisting of husband 
and wife. As every quarter of the main settlement 
contained between five hundred and six hundred resi- 
dences of this kind, and the villages from one hundred 
and fifty to three hundred each, he calculated that 
the total number of adult inhabitants could not be 
much less than twelve thousand. In addition, 
there were the infants, which continued to be born 
at such a rate that the natural increase of the com- 
munity at the end of the first year would amount to 
about forty per cent. 

Colonel Ireton prided himself on his conviction 
of having charted everything worth notice. His 
surprise passed all bounds when a party of his men 
reported that they had discovered, on a hunting trip, a 
path not on the map leading south-east to the banks 
of Liverpool River, where they had met with a gang 



294 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

of about 150 Japanese actively engaged in clearing 
the land and utilizing the timber for the construction 
of houses. Near by were temporary shelters after 
the fashion of the aboriginal mia-mias. None of 
the gang understood English, so that no verbal 
information could be had, and protracted investiga- 
tions failed to reveal any clue as to the manner in which 
these immigrants could have got into this place. 
But the headman of the nearest charted village, 
over twenty miles away, who was know^n to speak 
broken English, volunteered an explanation. He 
said that the gang had come from a settlement 
farther west, the inhabitants of which had quar- 
relled, because they belonged to adjoining districts in 
Japan, separated by fierce rivalries and long wars 
for ages. The faction whose forefathers generally 
had the worst of the deal had been taunted with the 
fact, when remembrances were exchanged, to such 
an extent that the strife of long ago had nearly been 
revived. To prevent such a calamity, it had been 
decided to remove one of the contending clans by 
forming a new community. The statement was so 
uncommonly straightforward that it roused the 
suspicion of the whites, for as a rule the Japanese 
were most discreet, especially where the concealment 
of internal difficulties was concerned. So the party 
visited several villages farther west on its return. 
But everywhere a full complement of male and female 
residents was found. It was strange, because no 
women were with the gang on Liverpool River. 

The fact set the Colonel thinking. To his know- 
ledge, all the western settlements were inhabited 
by couples. Therefore, if the story of the headman 
was correct the outside faction must have left its 
wives in the care of traditional rivals. That was 
most unlikely. Sexual jealousy was the only pas- 
sion of the patient, toiling immigrants which had 



A TRANSFORMATION SCENE IN NORTH 295 

sometimes asserted itself so strongly in ugly brawls 
that its existence could not be hidden entirely by 
their leaders from the prying Austrahan eyes. Sud- 
denly the truth dawned on Colonel Ireton. These 
womanless colonists were not exiles from another 
camp. They were new arrivals. Their presence 
meant that, while he was scouting inland to obtain 
accurate information with regard to the resources 
of the enemy, a steady stream of the invaders 
kept pouring in all the time. Until he should have 
discovered by which way they came and at what 
rate, all his calculations were valueless. It was 
certain that they did not enter the country from 
the official port, for his garrison watched the 
approaches and surroundings closely and Federal 
steamers patrolled frequently the whole western 
expanse of coast on their journeys to and from 
Port Darwin. 

The waters farther east were supposed to be 
searched regularly by British men-of-war, for the pro- 
hibition of commercial navigation there had not yet 
been cancelled. In reality, the supervision was very 
lax. A small cruiser stationed at Thursday Island 
made occasionally the round of the Gulf of Car- 
pentaria. It had never called at the Japanese 
port or in Junction Bay since the Federal occupa- 
tion. Practically, the enemy had a monopoly 
of several hundred miles of coast line, where many 
sheltered inlets invited unostentatious landings. 
Colonel Ireton remembered that he had had a sig- 
nificant warning immediately after his arrival. The 
experts managing the wireless telegraph on board 
the steamer which conveyed him here had mentioned 
that the apparatus was intercepting wireless waves 
from an apparently very distant source. Two 
days later a Japanese steamer made her appearance 
and proceeded right up to a jetty running into deep 



2g6 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

water in the inlet, near the stores, where she dis- 
charged cargo for the settlement. The Colonel and 
his staff were invited by her captain to lunch on 
board, and were afterwards shown over the vessel, 
which was of the tramp type, tidily kept, provided 
with up-to-date discharging gear, manned by an 
ample Japanese crew, and fitted with apparatus for 
wireless telegraphy, a fact which interested the 
Colonel more than anything else. As he could 
not discover anything like a wireless station ashore, 
he concluded that the steamer must have communi- 
cated with other vessels far out at sea. Having 
accounted thus to his own satisfaction for the 
observation of his experts, he forgot the incident. 
But now he began to doubt the correctness of his 
former surmises and resolved to investigate personally 
and at once. 



CHAPTER VII 

LIKE TIGERS AT BAY 

EARLY on November 25, 1912, Colonel Ireton left 
the fort with an escort of two officers, a sergeant 
and four men. The latter led several spare horses 
carrying provisions and a collapsible boat, the parts 
of which were well hidden under the other baggage, 
for the explorers did not wish to let the Japanese 
into the secret of their destination. With this in- 
tention they travelled due south to deceive possible 
watchers and also to evade the swamps and creaks 
of the coast. Ostensibly they were bound on a 
hunting trip. About noon on the following day they 
turned eastwards and were soon out in the original 
wilderness. Progress was slow, continually impeded 
by natural obstructions. But from time to time 
a marked tree or rock was passed showing that 
the intrepid invaders had penetrated even here, 
and these observations filled the explorers with 
fresh hopes. At nightfall they crossed Liverpool 
River and camped not far from its right bank. 

Next morning they pursued their quest further. 
Fortune favoured them. They found a track 
running from the north-east to the south-west about 
four miles distant from the river. It was very 
rough, but its condition indicated plainly that it was 
much frequented. Soon it bent round to the north 
near a village in a clearing. There were many 
dwellings, but only very few settlers were to be 

a«7 



298 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

seen. It occurred to the Colonel that this must be a 
kind of half-way house established for the comfort 
of weary immigrants on their march to the interior, 
and that a similar station was probably situated 
on the banks of Liverpool River at the end of another 
day's journey, which station he had missed luckily 
by crossing farther down. He had no wish to make 
his presence known to the villagers, who might 
have means to warn the secret coastal base — the 
existence of which could no longer be doubted 
— of the approach of the whites. Much time was 
lost in the endeavour of the little party to pass 
through the bush surrounding the settlement out 
of sight and hearing of its inhabitants. The ex- 
plorers were just expecting to come out on the 
track again when the din and tramping of a large 
moving crowd made them recoil. They left the 
horses in care of some of the rank and file far back 
in the thickets ; then the officers crept forward 
cautiously to ascertain the cause of the commotion. 
They beheld a force of about two hundred Japanese 
marching inland. A vanguard of twenty men, 
rifle on shoulder, headed the procession. Behind, 
in motley array, the main crowd followed, some carry- 
ing burdens, others leading horses laden with crates 
of living poultry or with bulky packages, still others 
driving cattle, sheep and goats. Another armed 
detachment brought up the rear. It was afternoon 
before the track was clear once more. The explorers 
pushed on for another twenty miles and camped for 
the night in a sheltered spot. 

Little more than two hours' spirited riding after 
sunrise (November 28), and the party had the 
first glimpse of the sea — the endless, sparkling cres- 
cent of Boucant Bay. At this point the track 
turned sharply to the west to the mouth of Liverpool 
River. Quite unexpectedly it opened upon a vil- 



LIKE TIGERS AT BAY 299 

lage on a side channel of this river, nesthng in a 
fold of the ground, which position, in conjunction 
with thick lines of high mangroves on the banks, 
hid it completely from the sea. It seemed that 
the Japanese were using the place merely as a 
temporaiy convenience, as a residence for immi- 
gration officials. It consisted of less than twenty 
houses and three large sheds serviceable as 
stores or barracks. There was no sign of any 
cultivation around it. About a mile further 
do\vn was an opening in the mangroves. A log- 
paved road led do\Mi to it from the sheds and a 
gang of coolies were removing goods from there on 
hand-trucks. The explorers hurried down and 
espied a large steamer standing out to sea. It was 
too late to stop her for inspection, but that was really 
needless. There could be no doubt that she was 
the transport which had landed the immigrants en- 
countered on the previous day. Moreover, some- 
thing else attracted the Colonel's attention. A small 
steamer lay motionless in the mouth of the river, a 
few hundred yards away. She had two very high 
masts, with loose wire dangling from the top. One 
glance through his glasses convinced the Colonel 
that this was the floating Japanese station for wire- 
less telegraphy. He jumped into a boat and was 
paddled over. For the sake of safety, his escort 
carried a supply of Commonwealth flags, one of 
which was unfurled with satisfactory results. The 
crew hned up, cheering. Unfortunately, that was 
the only British accomplishment acquired by them. 
None, from the captain downwards, confessed to a 
knowledge of the English language. They did not 
try to interfere with the close inspection to which 
the vessel was subjected, and which proved it to 
be admirably adapted to its purpose. On the con- 
trary, their courtesy was perfect, but explanations, 



300 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

of course, were impossible in the absence of an 
interpreter. 

On shore the farce continued. The headman of 
the village gloried to conduct his vistors in dumb 
show. It was noticed, however, that he persistently 
overlooked a certain building, on which, consequently, 
their curiosity soon centred. As the door was locked 
and the guide did not seem to understand that 
the key was wanted. Colonel Ireton and his officers 
entered through a window, to the pantomimically 
expressed horror of their cicerone. The place was 
a splendidly equipped telegraph office, though 
there were no overhead wires. The wires disap- 
peared in a wooden pipe running down the wall. 
This was another proof of Japanese cunning. The 
station was evidently connected with the capital 
by underground cable. Subsequent investiga- 
tion upheld this supposition, and revealed plainly 
the whole scheme of the enemy's carefully planned 
communications. Every fresh reinforcement was 
thus telegraphed to the capital where the Board 
of Five was kept informed of all details and was 
enabled in turn to use unimpeded and unsus- 
pected the wireless service of the existence of 
which no white man had dreamed. It was pos- 
sible, indeed likely, that other floating stations 
were hidden in unfrequented waters among the 
island clouds to the north of Australia, forming a 
connexion between Tokio and the new Japanese 
colony. 

Colonel Ireton did not prolong his stay. He was 
powerless to interfere at present and wished to 
transmit his astonishing discoveries to headquar- 
ters as rapidly as possible. For a moment he felt 
tempted to cut the cable, but he was sensible enough 
to recognize the uselessness of such an action. 
He departed the same afternoon, intent on following 



LIKE TIGERS AT BAY 301 

the track right to its end. Next day the party 
covered sixty miles and passed five villages, two of 
which were mere refreshment stages, but the three 
others lay in fertile country farther south and 
teemed with population. No women were visible — 
conclusive evidence, beside the unfinished state of 
the settlements and the backwardness of the cul- 
tivation paddocks, that the inhabitants were recent 
arrivals. Some miles farther on the track, which 
after crossing the river had turned due west and then 
north-west, lost itself altogether, and the explorers 
had to face again the hardships of slow, pathless 
progress, until in the afternoon of November 30 
they crossed a telegraph line and knew that they 
were within the confines of the district of older 
settlement. Under the circumstances it was not 
wonderful that neither the Imperial garrison nor 
the Federals had conceived any suspicion of a be- 
yond, owing to the prudent policy of the Japanese to 
leave a broad strip of untouched wilderness between 
their public and secret spheres of operation. 

The Commandant's return was timely. The 
garrison was in danger of getting out of hand, irri- 
tated by the demeanour of the invaders, whose 
coolness began to change to defiance, as many inci- 
dents, petty in themselves, showed. He affected to 
ignore them in the hope that a bolder move on the 
part of the enemy might give him an opportunity to 
employ stern measures. It occurred very soon. 
Probably the Elders were much annoyed over his 
successful excursion, which had taken them by sur- 
prise, and were eager to get in a counter-stroke. 
They requested the honour of an interview (December 
2) in the course of which they intimated that they 
wished to terminate the occupation of the fort by the 
Federal troops, because they required it for their 
own use. They justified this remarkable demand 



302 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

with the plea that the fort had been built by Japan- 
ese labour and was therefore the property of their 
community. Admitting that they had loaned it 
to the Imperial garrison, such courtesy did not sig- 
nify that they had parted with the rights of ownership 
to all comers. The former surrender was an ac- 
knowledgement that they considered themselves 
part of the British Empire. The Australian army 
was not Imperial, but a local force, and they had never 
asked for a Federal garrison. At any rate, the site 
was too central and too valuable for military pur- 
poses and was wanted for civic extensions. 

Colonel Ireton replied that the site, and indeed all 
the land occupied by the Japanese, was vested in 
the Commonwealth and had never been lawfully 
alienated. His interviewers did not wish to open 
that portentous question, yet they were not so 
easily beaten. Politely declining to discuss this 
point with a military officer, they attacked his posi- 
tion from another quarter. Apart from the issue 
of ground rights, they said, there could be no 
doubt that the buildings belonged to their com- 
munity, wherefore they craved permission to re- 
move the materials, as timber was getting scarce in 
the immediate surroundings of the capital and 
was urgently required for new constructions. 

The Colonel simply stated that he knew nothing 
about the men who built the fort. It might have 
been their people, or it might not. However, 
he took it over as the successor of the Imperial gar- 
rison and meant to keep it. Here, indeed, the Japan- 
ese had committed a sin of omission. In their joy of 
having in their midst an Imperial force, the presence 
of which gave an air of loyalty and legahty to their 
sinister proceedings, they had not foreseen that one 
day Federal troops might be substituted. The 
evacuation of the fort had been a spontaneous act of 



LIKE TIGERS AT BAY 303 

gratitude, without any records or reservations in 
writing. They had now occasion to repent of their 
hastiness. For Colonel Ireton was not a man 
who overlooked any weakness in the armour of his 
adversaries, and declined politely but firmly to dis- 
cuss the matter any further. A letter addressed 
to him by the Board of Five was returned with the 
remark that he regarded this particular incident as 
closed. 

On the following day (December 3) a Federal 
cargo boat arrived from Port Darwin with stores for 
the garrison and steamed right up to the Japanese 
jetty, as had been done before. It being Sunday, 
the discharging did not commence at once, and the 
captain and crew, with the exception of a couple 
of men, spent the evening in the fort, retailing the 
latest news. Suddenly, in the dead of night, an 
alarm was raised. The jetty was enveloped in 
flames, so that it was impossible to get to the vessel 
from the land side. The few hands aboard tried 
their utmost to push the steamer out into the stream 
away from the wooden structure, which burned 
fiercely as if it had been soaked with some inflam- 
mable stuff. But wind and current seemed to drive 
her against it. In the end they had to jump into 
the water to swim ashore. Jetty and steamer be- 
came a total loss. 

The Japanese Elders insisted that the disaster was 
due to the carelessness of the whites and claimed 
heavy damages for the destruction of their property. 
Colonel Ireton repudiated responsibility on the 
ground that the fire had broken out on the jetty. 
He refrained from hurling accusations which he 
could not prove. But every Australian was con- 
vinced that the disaster was due to incendiarism. 
The spirits of the little force, isolated from all the 
world, had never been very cheerful. A deeper gloom 



304 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

now crept into the brave hearts, when it was realized 
that the enemy was not afraid to strike in the dark, 
from the back, and did not hesitate to sacrifice his 
own work if he could gratify his hatred by doing 
so. 

Still it might have been worse. The Federals con- 
gratulated each other on the fact that the first at- 
tempt had not been directed against the fort, which 
was entirely built of timber. Every reasonable 
precaution was taken immediately. Several sheds 
not used permanently were demolished and the 
material covered with earth. The guards were 
strengthened and received orders to fire on any 
nightly prowler who should ignore their challenge. 
Colonel Ireton informed the Elders of the new rules 
under the pretext of preventing misunderstandings ; 
they did not deign to acknowledge the communication . 

The Federal Commander was very much disquieted. 
His instructions enjoined mainly the ceaseless as- 
sertion of Commonwealth sovereignty. How that was 
to be done against an enemy who had all the ad- 
vantage of possession and real power, he was left 
to find out for himself. He began to fear that the 
Japanese would not recoil from the use of violence, 
if they should think that they had a good case. It 
became necessary, in the interests of the many lives 
under his care, to enlighten the Federal Govern- 
ment with regard to the precarious position of its gar- 
rison and to ask for more detailed orders. Though 
he was in wireless connexion with headquarters, 
this service was most roundabout and altogether too 
much dependent on go-betweens for his needs. He 
could never be sure that his messages were rightly 
interpreted in Port Darwin and transmitted in full to 
their destination. Therefore he decided to proceed 
to Port Darwin, where he could place himself in 
direct communication with Melbourne by the over- 



LIKE TIGERS AT BAY 305 

land telegraph. Moreover, there were several local 
matters he wished to attend to personally. Since 
the bad feeling between the two races had become 
more pronounced, the Japanese had gradually 
stopped the sale of foodstuffs from their cultivations 
to the garrison, which consequently had to rely 
more and more on imports from its base. So far 
these had not been too well regulated, and the Colonel 
desired to make better arrangements. 

Colonel Ireton never hesitated once he had made 
up his mind. He entrusted his command to the 
oldest captain, a man whose coolness and courage 
had been tested thoroughly in the civil war, and 
boarded the fast steamer which served as his floating 
wireless telegraph station, bound for Port Darwin 
(December 4). He did not forget to issue a final 
warning to his men not to provoke the enemy dur- 
ing his absence, which, he promised, would not 
extend over more than a week. 



A,C. 



CHAPTER VIII 

BLEEDING WHITE 

FOR a man who, like Colonel Ireton, had sojourned 
for a month in the silent bush, surrounded by 
a silent enemy, Port Darwin presented a scene of 
dazzling activity. The township was very full. 
Several well-known Federal officials were there in 
connexion with the railway construction to the south. 
This great work had been taken in hand from both 
ends, and the line from South Australia advanced 
rapidly. Though nearly everything had to be im- 
ported, the combined efforts from the north and south 
added about a mile every two days. But even if this 
rate of progress could be maintained throughout, years 
would elapse before the completion of the transcon- 
tinental link, without the possession of which the 
Commonwealth could not strike at the invaders. 
Many people doubted whether the enormous task 
could be finished at all. Some wagered that the 
work would soon stop through want of funds. Wild 
rumours were circulating of the extreme measures to 
which the Federal Government was driven in a hope- 
less attempt to avoid bankruptcy, and wilder pro- 
phecies foreshadowing the worst complications. 

Colonel Ireton loathed listening to the idle talk. 
Nevertheless he could not but perceive that the inter- 
ests of his garrison did not seem to receive much atten- 
tion at headquarters. In vain did he demand stricter 
orders. The Federal authorities confined themselves 

30« 



BLEEDING WHITE 307 

to an assurance of their continued unlimited confi- 
dence in liis ability ; beyond this they merely repeated 
that details would have to be left to his discretion ; 
that he should decide each case on its merit, always 
bearing in mind, however, that the invaders should 
never be given the slightest advantage on which a title 
to any possession in the Northern Territory could 
be based ; and that he should never cease to assert 
the supremacy of the Commonwealth. The Colonel 
was bewildered by this strange indifference. He 
looked, so to speak, through the wrong end of the 
telescope, placed, as he was, 2,000 miles away from 
Australia's nerve-centres, at the terminus of the over- 
land telegraph. It was as well for him. For if he 
could have seen things in their true proportions, he 
would have despaired. 

Alas, Australia has entered the phase of passive 
suffering. Its determination to keep the whole Con- 
tinent white remains as yet unbroken. That is still 
the tacit presupposition of all national development, 
but the enthusiasm with which the establishment of 
the Federal garrison was greeted only six weeks ago 
has died out. What influence can a handful of white 
soldiers, buried in the boundless North, have upon 
the vital issue ? They cannot reconquer the Terri- 
tory, they cannot hunt the enemy out. Fools those 
who expected great things from them ! Both official 
and popular interest in their doings are at a low ebb. 
In one quarter of the world, it is true, there is no sign 
of weariness with regard to the garrison. Every now 
and then the Japanese Press speaks of it with in- 
creasing bitterness. Just at present, while Colonel 
Ireton is in Port Darwin, a heated discussion is carried 
on about his exaggerated claims — so called — of 
ownership. The Tokio journalists take their cue from 
the British Press, which, of course, is denouncing 



3o8 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

wildly the financial measures of the Commonwealth, 
and make invidious comparisons that the same cen- 
sured tendencies are being indulged in even against 
the poor refugees. 

So the respectable British Press has continued hos- 
tile against Australia. The official relations, however, 
between London and Melbourne have become less 
strained, for the Imperial Government, benefiting by 
the lessons of the immediate past, is refraining tact- 
fully from any further interference with Common- 
wealth legislation. Since the middle of November 
several Enghsh warships are again stationed in the 
capital ports. Perhaps this improvement has had 
something to do with the indefinite attitude of the 
Federal authorities towards the Colonel. They may be 
aware that new troubles with London are likely if they 
associate themselves publicly with a policy of oppres- 
sion against the Japanese settlers, though they may 
secretly encourage it. Less directness will leave 
them free to plead that any particular action of their 
officer was not ordered by them, and to uphold or 
disavow him without loss of dignity. Perhaps they, 
too, have been taught the value of a better under- 
standing with the Mother Country. Poor Colonel 
Ireton ! 

If there is any reapproachment to Great Britain, it 
does not find legislative expression. Parliament still 
rushes on undaunted — like a steam-roller, crushing 
through all accepted principles of fiscal policy and 
crushing vested interests right and left. Needs must 
when the devil drives. Ruthless action, not regretful 
sympathy, is the only means of avoiding bankruptcy. 
Forced loans, embargo on gold exports, absentee taxes, 
another shilling on the income-tax, which steadily 
yields less, double land-taxes — all the old nightmares 
of troubled Moderate consciences have become real- 
ities. And, in spite of everything, money is pouring 



BLEEDING WHITE 309 

in. If only the transcontinental railway and the 
armaments, which might have been financed leisurely 
in the good years gone by, did not swallow up every 
penny. Call it pounds, shillings, pence ! It is never- 
theless the very life-blood of the community, drained 
away in a ruddy, irrecoverable torrent. For all im- 
ports have to be paid lor in gold. Though the mines 
produce at high pressure and every ounce finds its way 
into the official coffers against due certificate, they 
can hardly keep up with the demand. For internal 
uses, there is Commonwealth paper, of a value fixed 
by statute. 

Even so, everything might yet be weU, but for an- 
other pitiless If ! If only the nation would go on 
creating wealth in accustomed fashion ! Unfortun- 
ately, Parliament alone seems to be working. How 
unsettled the people have grown, how restless ! The 
avenues of employment have narrowed. Trade is at 
a standstill. Military training has thrown the labour 
supply out of gear. Whatever business is done is 
transacted on a cash basis — in paper. Who knows how 
much the paper will be worth at the final reckoning ? 
Who can concentrate his mind on ordinary toil while 
the terrible uncertainty lasts ? Like a black thunder- 
cloud suspense hangs over Australia. 

Spring is far advanced. It has been a glorious 
season. Soaking rains in many parts have clothed 
the countryside a rich green. Nature, Hke mankind, 
seems to be mocking the doomed Continent. The 
wheatfields are bending in golden heaviness, har- 
vesting should begin. Wool, the staple product of 
Australia, should already be choking the ports. In- 
stead, much of it is still on the sheep's backs, shearing 
is proceeding painfully slow. Everywhere there is an 
outcry for labour. Political excitement has kept in 
the cities this year large numbers of men who in 
ordinary times would have gone up country about 



310 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

mid-winter. Certainly there is no plethora of employ- 
ment in the towns either, but the general disorganiz- 
ation of business creates many casual jobs. At any 
rate, in the centres of population one is an active 
member of the body politic, one knows what is hap- 
pening and takes part in it — thrills so dear to half- 
educated democrats. Away in the backblocks, on the 
contrary, one becomes a mere machine, grinding 
through hard tasks — not a pleasant change while so 
much is going on. The young men, moreover, are 
absorbed in the army, and though the authorities are 
doing everything to release them for agricultural work, 
many prefer the easy military life and hold out for 
increased monetary inducements. On reflection 
even ardent patriots do not like paper money. It is 
not a safe investment to toil for. Hard cash or no 
hands ! 

Meanwhile the landholders are reduced to despair. 
Most of them have only touched a few silver or copper 
coins of late. The harvest will rot on the fields if it 
is not secured quickly. Already rural associations are 
forming, at first for the purpose of mutual assistance 
in harvesting. The large owners are distinguishing 
themselves in this movement, uniting their pemianent 
hands in gangs and setting them shearing, the drawing 
of lots deciding the rotation in which the various 
stations are to be taken. Such firmly knit body- 
guards, having been once created, are found useful in 
more ways than merely shearing or reaping. And 
quickly the recruiting of forced labour becomes their 
most important function. To such a pass have things 
come in Australia, the Land of the Free ! 

Liberty or no liberty, the wool must be marketed, 
the crops must be brought in. If not voluntarily, 
the necessary work must be done by compulsion. 
Law and order have been set at naught so often 
that one more transgression does not count. There 



BLEEDING WHITE 311 

is no authority out back to which the victimized 
bush workers and small selectors can appeal for pro- 
tection. Those who become reconciled with their 
lot and show willingness, are treated fairly well, and 
even persuade friends to join. So the ranks of the 
dependents swell. In like proportion the mettle of 
the organizers rises. The insignificant local unions 
are drawing towards each other and are rapidly being 
forged together to powerful district leagues. Soon 
the moving spirits will begin to dream of an all-em- 
bracing Rural Association, stretching from Central 
Queensland through Middle and West New South 
Wales to North-West Victoria and into the interior 
of South Australia. And the big proprietors, whose 
retainers form the backbone of the organization and 
who naturally control it, may then hope to influence 
the inevitable land legislation of the Federal Parlia- 
ment in favour of present holders. 

Already the enormous increase of numbers is 
begetting a consciousness of strength and an impa- 
tience of opposition, which has also grown apace. 
For a large percentage of the western toilers belongs 
to the Australian Workers' Union, one of the most 
uncompromising labour bodies in the Commonwealth, 
and defies the incipient Association. No wonder 
the latter resents such behaviour, if only by reason of 
the dangerous example set to the more pliable men. 
The latent antipathy between the landless and the 
land monopolists is changing to revengeful fury. 
Occasional explosions of violence on both sides become 
more frequent. Soon the illimitable bush, so well 
adapted to keep its secrets, will be turned into a battle- 
ground of the worst human passions. Press gangs will 
infest it. Boycott and kidnappings will be daily 
occurrences. In retribution, fires of unaccountable 
origin will rage and consume many a proud home- 
stead. And not many questions will be asked of any 



312 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

suspected incendiary — his end will be swift and sure 
whether he be guilty or innocent. 

In the cities the misery is just as intense. Is it 
not spring, the season when that other dreaded 
Oriental invasion, the Plague, rears its head ? It 
has been fought bravely in the past, it has been kept 
in check, but never quite exterminated. Now is its 
chance. No funds for sanitary improvements. A 
general enfeeblement of health. Universal listless- 
ness. Famine rampant. Not plague alone, ty- 
phoid, low fever, consumption and a host of other 
diseases find a fertile soil. The death rate is multi- 
plying. 

Groan, ye mothers ! Wrestle in prayer, fathers ! 
Pray, not for the lives of your dear ones, but that 
they may have a chance to die in the defence of their 
country, striking a blow for deliverance — not like 
drowning rats in a sinking ship ! Alas, the Heavens 
are deaf. Lost opportunities never come back. 
Stagnation everywhere ! Only a solitary something 
is felt moving by all, creeping nearer and nearer like 
a death-reptile with fascinating, paralysing eyes : 
Public and Private Bankruptcy ! 

The contemporary historian, to be of any use, must 
poleaxe his sympathies and bury them at sea, by 
night, with a heavy weight for ballast, so that they 
may never trouble him again. Else he becomes un- 
reliable. It is his duty to accumulate hard facts. 
Hard facts point their own moral. And yet, may not 
even memories of his dead sympathies visit him in 
the darkest hour, to lighten his cruel task ? 

Australia, thou didst not deserve this fate ! Num- 
berless were thy mistakes, but generosity was respon- 
sible for the most of them. Many hearts full of sorrow, 
many eyes dimmed with tears, were cheered by thy 
triumphant march in the van of humanitarian effort. 
It seemed that under thy congenial blue skies a new 



BLEEDING WHITE 313 

Greece was arising, a more perfect Athens, scorning 
slavery and conferring the sacred rights of citizen- 
ship upon its entire manhood and womanhood ; and 
which, even as in Athens of old those deserving citi- 
zens had been ostracized who monopoHzed political 
favour, would dare to ostracize Old-World monopoly 
and injustice. And is this to be the result ?4 

Perhaps it is all not true. It may only be a 
nightmare. Thou wilt awake, Austraha ! Thou 
wilt arouse thyself, thou wilt gird thy loins. Thou 
wilt confound the false coiners of cheap insular 
phrases who would persuade thee to rely on what 
thou canst not control ! Every one of thy sons shall 
be a warrior, every one of thy daughters a warrior's 
helpmate ! Not for conquest. But in defence of 
thy inalienable right of shaping thy own destiny. 
Then, only then, thou mayest safely continue thy 
triumphant march. Then thou wilt enter into thy 
proud Twentieth Century Nationhood, which will be 
a joy, not an oppression ! Thou wilt — What ? . . . 
At present thou art staggering through the midnight 
of thy fate, tired, dead tired ! 



CHAPTER IX 

MASSACRE 

UNDER the circumstances, Colonel Ireton did not 
accomplish much in Port Darwin. Apart from 
a more satisfactory arrangement of local services in 
connexion with his mission, his one success was the 
exaction of a firm promise from headquarters that 
two more steamers fitted with wireless telegraph 
would be despatched to the North at once. One of 
these he intended to station off the secret Japanese 
base, while the other was to patrol the coast regularly. 
He did not prolong his stay, and on the evening of 
December 9 he arrived again in the fort. 

The Federal garrison had hardly ventured out of 
barracks in the meantime. One night a determined 
attempt had been made by swarms of the enemy to 
burn down the fort. The free use of firearms had 
kept them in check. But the prowlers had carried off 
their dead and wounded under cover of the darkness, 
leaving no trace by which they might be identified, 
and no proof of their criminal enterprise. Otherwise, 
the Japanese continued to ignore the existence of 
the whites, except in one particular. A new jetty 
was being constructed in place and on the founda- 
tions of the old one which had been destroyed. The 
invaders worked at it in a great hurry. Large gangs of 
toilers were employed day and night. Even some of 
the most substantial buildings were demolished, so 
that the seasoned timber, of which there was evidently 



MASSACRE 315 

a dearth, might be used for this structure. And 
a few Australian soldiers, who followed the peaceful 
occupation of fishing, were warned off its neighbour- 
hood. As they did not seem to take notice, fences 
were erected on land, and well manned Japanese 
boats patrolled unceasingly the waters round the 
jetty. 

Colonel Ireton had no sooner heard of the fresh 
development than he regarded it as a hint of provi- 
dence. The jetty was all but completed. So next 
morning he ordered his steamer alongside. As she 
approached, a Japanese hastened forward and asked 
the captain for a wharfage fee. He was referred to 
the Colonel, who, of course, refused to listen to such 
demands. Nothing more happened until the steamer 
began to discharge cargo. Then an unarmed party 
of Japanese advanced boldly and seized the first cases. 
They held their ground unflinchingly, though the 
carriers tried to drive them off with blows, and un- 
folded a Union Jack, thus imparting an official char- 
acter to their proceedings. Colonel Ireton, on being 
informed, perceived that he had fallen into the trap of 
the enemy, who had foreseen what he would do and 
who had devised a careful plan to outwit him. It 
was too late to withdraw with honour. Accepting 
the situation, he alarmed the garrison and marched 
down to the jetty fifty men under his personal com- 
mand. Meanwhile the other side had not remained 
passive. The Elders were wending their way to the 
same place, attended by a large escort. Both parties 
arrived almost at the same moment. The Colonel 
ordered his men to remove the goods, which consisted 
of half a dozen cases. But the Elders prevented 
the execution of this instruction by sitting down, in 
calm deliberation, on top of the disputed cases. 
Even the Colonel recoiled from the idea of treat- 
ing these magistrates with the offhandedness which 



3i6 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

would have been meted out to the common rabble. 
There was an awkward silence. Then he asked 
curtly what they meant by robbing the Common- 
wealth. " We rob nobody and nothing," their 
spokesman replied. " We simply place embargo on 
the goods in lien of payment of the fee due to us for 
the use of the jetty." " This is Australian soil," 
said the Colonel ; " nothing will be paid for landing 
cargo in our own territory." " That may be so," 
was the retort, " but this jetty was built under your 
eyes by our people for the benefit of the community. 
We do not wish you to have anything to do with it at 
all, for fear it might be burned down again. But if 
you use it, it is only just that you should pay the 
ordinary fee which we charge against our own 
steamers, and which would be enforced against the 
shipping of all nations." 

It was evident that nothing could be gained by 
arguing the point. So the Colonel said : " Apply 
to the courts. But I won't have violence here while 
I and my comrades can shoot straight." Turning to 
his men, he called out : " Remove the goods. If any 
feUow resists, shift him." The Elders exclaimed in 
chorus: " The British Empire stands for justice. We 
cannot get justice here." " Go then where you can," 
mocked the Colonel, and added : " You have no case at 
all. In every civilized country you have to get a per- 
mit before you can start building. I am the Federal 
officer in authority in this district, and I know you 
did not apply to me for permission. By the law of 
the nation, I can command you to remove your jetty 
altogether. I shall do so if there is any more obstin- 
acy. Forward, men ! " The spokesman stepped 
close to Colonel Ireton : " Take care," he hissed, 
" Japan is stronger than your Commonwealth." 

He was cut short by a scuffle, in which he and his 
colleagues were brushed aside contemptuously, while 



MASSACRE 



317 



the coolies were knocked down in all directions. 
Next moment the Australians had secured the goods 
and were continuing the discharging of the steamer 
regardless of the multitudes of Japanese thronging 
round, who for once had deserted their ordinary 
duties and were standing about in thick clusters at 
short distance, as if they had been invited to witness 
the hoped-for discomfiture of the whites. Though 
sadly disappointed, they never stirred. No sign, no 
order came from the Elders, and in its absence no 
Japanese dared to spring to the assistance of his 
leaders. Discipline held the Asiatics in an iron grasp, 
which even the sight of acute humihation could not 
relax. The Elders exchanged a few words in their 
own language and retired, followed by all their faith- 
ful subjects. Obviously, they considered that, after 
all, the propitious moment had not yet arrived for 
a final reckoning with the hated Federals. The 
steamer left the jetty before nightfall, for Colonel 
Ireton did not like to court the risk of another con- 
flagration. 

After the jetty incident the Japanese did not let 
a day pass by without some demonstration of their 
utter dislike of the Australians. They had already 
exterminated the wild animal life in the district of 
older settlement to such an extent that hunting trips 
had to last over several days before sufficient game 
could be had to vary the monotonous diet of the 
garrison. Now they began to destroy the fish in the 
inlet by explosions of dynamite, doubtless for the 
purpose of putting an end to the angling sport, 
which formed perhaps the chief recreation of the 
lonely white exiles. This callous behaviour out- 
raged the clean sporting instincts for which the 
Australians are famous, and, probably more than 
anything else, caused the latter to loathe the alien 
race. 



3i8 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

But this was not the worst. Even while Colonel 
Ireton was still absent on his visit to Port Darwin, 
curious accidents commenced to happen. Bridges, 
which had often been crossed in perfect safety, 
became unstable. Planks shifted. In the log roads 
over swamps, deep treacherous holes opened, con- 
cealed mostly under a cover of branches or grass. 
Several horses had been hurt at these danger spots 
and had to be killed. A man broke his leg ; another 
was thrown by his frightened animal on such an 
occasion, and fractured his collar-bone. At first it was 
thought that the rainy season, which was now at its 
height, was responsible for the bad state of the tracks. 
Colonel Ireton's sub-commander wrote a letter 
about it to the Elders and received a courteous 
acknowledgement regretting the mishaps, but point- 
ing out that the roads and bridges had not been 
designed to withstand the weight of horse traffic. 
Colonel Ireton himself was inclined on reflection to 
suspect a new villainy on the part of the cunning 
Asiatics. There seemed to be so much method about 
these occurrences. He could not prove anything, 
however. So he had to hold his peace and to be con- 
tent with warning his men to be very careful and to 
travel only in broad dayhght. 

The Colonel kept his men much in the fort now. 
His idea was to lie quiet until the promised steamers 
should arrive, when he intended to boldly plant a 
detachment at the secret base and to generally over- 
awe the enemy. But this penning-up of a garrison 
bereft of enjoyments and diversions could not be 
carried out for long without evil consequences. 
Although the Commander was well liked, discipline 
began to suffer. The veterans of the Western 
campaign grumbled. That affair had been breezy. 
Nobody thought much of the heavy losses, which 
were forgotten in the great patriotic stir. Here, on 



MASSACRE 319 

the contrary, everything stagnated. There was no 
action to defeat the creeping tactics of the coloured 
ahens, no hope of a change by which this dead waste 
of weeks and months might be justified. It was bad 
enough to break the hearts of heroes;. So Colonel 
Ireton had to give way by consenting to another 
series of hunting trips. As it had not rained for some 
days, he decided to lead personally the first party. 

He rode out with fifty men on the morning of 
December 12. About twelve miles to the south he 
came to the largest bridge of the district, over a creek 
dry in winter, but through which torrents roared 
often in summertime. However, there was only a 
chain of ponds in it now. A gang of coolies were 
working at the bridge when the whites approached. 
But these fellows disdainfully turned their backs 
on the latter, as had been their habit of late, and 
retired without uttering a word. The Colonel called 
out a warning. Three men cantered over the struc- 
ture and signalled that all was safe. They were 
too hasty. Suddenly, when they were within a few 
yards of the other side, a crash was heard. Planks 
broke, and two riders were precipitated into 
the bottom of the creek. The third just managed 
to parry his horse and to hurry back. The coolies 
looked on from some distance, without moving a limb 
to render assistance. This callous apathy threw 
the Colonel into a violent rage. Leading his escort 
through the bed of the creek, he ordered the arrest of 
the loitering Japanese. While some soldiers pursued 
and secured them, without meeting with any resist- 
ance, others attended to the victims. One was dead, 
having dislocated his neck in the fall. His comrade 
was unconscious and suffered from a broken arm. 
Both horses had to be shot. 

Colonel Ireton immediately returned to the fort 
with his eleven prisoners. He was determined to 



320 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

bring matters to a head. In his capacity as Chief 
Federal Magistrate and Commander-in-Chief, he pro- 
claimed martial law over the Japanese settlement the 
same afternoon and informed the Elders that he 
would try all offenders, and in the first place the 
arrested coolies, before a summary court of justice 
consisting of Commonwealth officers appointed by 
him. He further stated that the trial would com- 
mence on the following day at lo a.m. in front of the 
fort, and that an alleged ignorance of the English lan- 
guage on the part of the accused would not be 
allowed to interfere with the course of the justice 
in Imperial territory, before an Imperial court ; if, 
however, an interpreter should be furnished by the 
Japanese community, his appearance would not be 
objected to. Notices to this effect were also nailed 
to the outsides of the principal buildings in the four 
quarters of the capital, and a further supply was 
handed to the Elders by an orderly of the Command- 
ant, with the peremptory demand that they should 
be published in every outlying village. 

The Board of Five solemnly protested against the 
introduction of martial law, on the ground that it 
had not been proved that properly constituted civil 
courts would be unable to deal with any matters 
arising among the settlers. For this reason they 
refused to help the court without a guarantee that 
such action would not be taken as an acknowledge- 
ment of its powers. The Colonel refused to listen to 
any conditions. Nevertheless, a Japanese offered 
his services privately. But he would accept no pay- 
ment from the whites. He said that he would rather 
rely on the prisoners for his reward. All this, of 
course, was a farce originating in the desire of the 
Elders to get into touch with the captives. The 
Asiatic mind ever prefers to move in curves rather 
than in a straight line. 



MASSACRE 321 

Proceedings opened punctually at lo a.m. on 
December 13. Deal benches formed the seat of jus- 
tice, surmounted by a tent roof supported by bare 
poles, so that sun or rain were kept out and jet the 
view of the audience was not obstructed. 

The court consisted of twelve officers under the 
presidency of Colonel Ireton, The two other officers 
acted as Crown Prosecutor and Counsel for the 
Defence. Fifty men, with fixed bayonets, kept 
guard. The remainder of the garrison was held ready 
for instant action within the fort No Japanese 
were visible, with the exception of the interpreter, 
who begun by doubting, on behalf of his clients, the 
competency of the court and subsided only when he 
was told that he did not represent counsel. The 
ordinary routine of courts was observed. The Pro- 
secutor outhned his case and called witnesses — the 
members of the hunting party — who were then cross- 
examined by the other side. Their evidence brought 
out the facts clearly, the collapse of the bridge, the 
presence of the accused, who had uttered no warning 
and had rendered no help. As for the defence, the 
interpreter was irrepressible in spite of the previous 
snub and soon ran it himseif. He maintained that it 
had not been proved that the prisoners had been on 
or near the scene of the disaster. The witnesses, in 
reply, stated that all the accused belonged to the 
gang which had worked on the bridge. So the inter- 
preter was thrown back on the old assertion that the 
occurrence was an accident and that any possible 
blame must attach to the whites, because they had 
carelessly subjected the structure to an overweight. 
The court found that the prisoners worked on the 
bridge when the hunting party approached, and that 
it was their duty to warn travellers of its unsafeness. 
This had not been done, either from gross neglect or 
from malice, and loss of life had been the direct con- 

A.C. X 



322 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

sequence of the omission. Furthermore, no help had 
been rendered, either by them or by their mates, 
which callousness aggravated the offence. The 
prisoners, therefore, were found guilty and were sen- 
tenced to a public flogging of twenty-five lashes each. 

During the afternoon Colonel Ireton received a 
communication from the Elders intimating that they 
were unable to vouch for the maintenance of peace 
if the feelings of the Japanese community should be 
outraged by the public execution of the sentence. 
But he resolved to persist without mercy. His men 
were enthusiastic and looked forward eagerly to the 
moment when brown malefactors should writhe under 
the whiplash of the whites in revenge for so many 
silent insults. Some of the officers were more anxious, 
but even the most cautious man had to admit that it 
was time to take risks. That the Elders, so imper- 
turbable and cool hitherto, should have become so 
frantic that they condescended to a threatening mes- 
sage, was considered a good sign. The Australians 
were still convinced that the enemy would not dare 
to employ open violence ; though the Empire might 
tolerate the outwitting of one of its units by diplo- 
macy, it was inconceivable that its rulers would 
look on calmly if arms were raised against men who 
wore its uniform. These soldiers, a mere handful, 
felt that the whole striking force of the Empire was 
at their back and conducted themselves according!}/. 

Early on December 14 the tent was set up again. 
Twenty-five yards away four flogging stocks were 
constructed of broad deal benches fitted with stout 
leather straps. While these preparations were under 
way, the Elders requested an interview, but the 
Colonel postponed it until after demands of justice 
should be satisfied, as he could not permit criticism 
of the findings of the court or interference with their 
proper performance. At 10 a.m. fifty Australians. 



MASSACRE 323 

fully armed, marched out and surrounded the tent 
where the court was already assembled. A few 
minutes later the prisoners were brought down, 
escorted by another detachment of soldiers. An ofifi- 
cer read the judgement and then showed the signa- 
tures to the oldest captain, whose duty it was to see 
it carried out. Eleven floggers, who had been selected 
by ballot from the ranks, one for each culprit, stepped 
forward and seized their charges. A military sur- 
geon hurriedly examined the prisoners to ascertain 
whether they were physically fit to undergo the pun- 
ishment. Then the oldest captain called out in a 
loud voice : " Now let justice be done ! " 

Opposite, in a wide half-circle, groups of Japanese 
clustered in deep silence, nearly without motion, in 
attitudes of panting suspense. So they remained 
until they heard the slashing noise of the first blow, 
and the shriek which followed. A hundred voices 
took up, repeated, intensified the cry. It was like 
the wail of a wounded monster. With the suddenness 
of lightning, the groups dissolved into a whirling 
sea of humanity, surging forward with stretched 
arms. They carried no weapons — their mission was a 
last peaceful appeal of a warlike race. A short 
command — a white file formed to meet them, 
dividing, breaking, pushing back the brown flood. 
Behind, the flogging went on as if nothing was hap- 
pening. For a moment the Japanese wavered. 
But the fourfold screams of the victims spurred them 
to fresh exertions. On they came again, and now 
they closed with the soldiers, who were forced to use 
their rifle butts, even their bayonets, to repulse the 
ju-jitsuing fiends. Suddenly an alert mob out- 
flanked them and rushed swiftly towards the flogging 
stocks. Before, however, the rioters could interrupt 
the execution of the sentence, the Colonel had sprung 
forward and ordered his men to fire ; they did so at 



324 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

point blank range, with terrible effect. The rapidly 
advancing crowd fell back in indescribable disorder. 
Many of the survivors threw themselves flat on the 
ground. Their bodies, and those of the slain, re- 
mained after a minute the only visible sign of the 
formidable onset and its fatal end. 

The flogging had been done with : the culprits 
were set free ; orders were given to succour the 
wounded, when, all at once, a new commotion in the 
Japanese quarters attracted the attention of the 
Australians. There rose, from behind the low ram- 
parts, a well-armed host. Thin lines dashed forth, 
curling around the flanks of the handful of Federals. 
These were now retreating leisurely, as if unconscious 
of the singular manoeuvre. At a bugle call, the 
Asiatics threw themselves down. Instinctively, the 
whites did the same. A volley rang out, followed 
by terrific sectional fire. The enemy, at last, had 
come into the open. A large force tried to inter- 
cept the retreat to the fort. Colonel Ireton's efforts 
were all in the direction of defeating this purpose. 
With the help of the reserves, who had been left with- 
in, he succeeded. The majority of his men regained 
the sheltering barracks. He himself had to be carried 
in, shot through the hip. Five officers and forty- two 
men lay outside, dead or wounded. 

As quickly as the battle fury had broken loose 
it died away. The Japanese army withdrew out of 
the firing zone and assumed a waiting attitude at a 
safe distance. From the central offices the Board of 
Five approached under a Union Jack surmounted by 
a white towel. They came to dictate the terms of 
surrender. For that was what it amounted to. 
Only about two hundred and fifty unwounded 
defenders were left to oppose the invaders. The 
provisions in store would hardly last a fortnight 
and, of course, no relief could be expected. In- 



MASSACRE 325 

deed, the Elders did not look forward to a siege. 
Apologizing for the painful necessity which had 
brought them there, they announced that in case 
of a renewal of hostilities the fort would be a mass 
of flames within an hour. On the other hand, if 
peaceful counsels prevailed, they promised that the 
wounded would receive immediate care. Under the 
circumstances, the conditions were soon formulated 
and accepted. Colonel Ireton agreed to ship his 
whole garrison to Port Darwin as rapidly as the 
Federal steamer, which served as floating wireless 
station, could be got alongside the jetty. Only the 
badly wounded men were to remain behind in charge 
of the military surgeons, and the Japanese bound 
themselves to do everything in their power to assist 
the latter and to supply proper food. The whites 
retained their arms. As there was not enough space 
in the vessel for the horses, it was determined that 
the Japanese should take care of them for three 
weeks, and should deliver them to any authorized 
person who might demand them within that period. 
After that they should become the property of the 
settlers. 

The garrison embarked early on December 16. 
It must be admitted that the conquerors behaved 
modestly after their triumph. There was no jeering, 
no ironical cheering. Colonel Ireton, who should 
have remained with the other wounded men, insisted 
on being removed at once. He died at sea, less from 
his wound than from a broken heart, as his faithful 
soldiers are fond of asserting. According to his last 
wish he was buried in the placid waters which lave 
the shores of the Northern Territory, wastes which he 
had battled for so bravely, and died for in the bitter 
end. 



CHAPTER X 

BLACK CHRISTMAS — PEACE ON EARTH, BUT NO 
GREAT JOY FOR AUSTRALIA 

IN the afternoon of December i6, London time — 
two days after the massacre of the Federal 
garrison therefore — the Japanese Ambassador to the 
Court of St. James informed the British Government 
of the unfortunate occurrence. This was perhaps 
the most remarkable proof of the wonderful organ- 
ization which enabled the invaders to flash wireless 
messages to Tokio within a few hours. That this 
method of communication existed was no longer a 
secret, because the quick response of the Japanese 
Press to the alleged oppression of the settlers by the 
Commonwealth Commander could only be explained 
in this way. The Ambassador was very suave on this 
occasion, as usual. He said that the dreaded clash 
between the tyrannical Federal garrison and the har- 
assed refugees had at last come to pass. As far as he 
knew the blame rested with the Australians, who had 
presumed to maltreat several of his former com- 
patriots under the pretext of a crime which without 
any doubt was no crime, but an accident, and any 
connexion with which, moreover, had not been 
proved against the hapless victims. Nevertheless, he 
was charged to express the sincere regrets of the 
Mikado and his advisers for the lamentable affair, 
which had resulted in the death of about a score of 
white soldiers, while the losses of the settlers were 



BLACK CHRISTMAS 327 

even larger. His Government must reserve the right 
to lodge reasonable claims against the Commonwealth 
on behalf of the refugees, since the latter, to the sorrow 
of every one of them, had not yet been admitted to 
British citizenship. At the same time he could assure 
the allied nation that Japan felt no resentment against 
individuals who, of course, had to obey orders, and 
was willing to consider favourably any suggestion of a 
compensation to the wounded and to the near relations 
of the dead, provided guarantees were given that 
the conditions, which had led up to the climax and 
were the cause of the proposed monetary sacrifice, 
could not recur. 

But what the diplomat left unmentioned the 
Tokio Press boldly spoke out. The papers, which 
had already made furious comments about the jetty 
quarrel, now called distinctly for war against Austra- 
lia, even against the Empire. With regard to the 
latter case, they indulged in some exquisite contortions 
for the purpose of conveying the impression that 
they could not contemplate or even talk about such 
a possibihty without pangs of acute suffering. 
" Every one in this country is proud of our alliance 
with the Mistress of the Seas," one journal wrote, 
" and every one desires to be loyal to her. These 
feelings are reciprocated by the people of Great 
Britain, as we know. But Britain is merely part 
of a whole, and if we may believe the clamours of 
other portions of her Empire she is a part rapidly 
diminishing in importance. We have to consider 
those others. The loudest among them at present is 
Austraha. Who are the AustraHans ? They are 
the men who have owned a Continent for a century 
and imagine that a handful of them have a better 
right to it than hundreds of millions of our race. 
They are the men who could not hold it for an hour 
against our will by their own strength. Yet they 



328 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

think that they may oppress a small number of our 
starved compatriots. They defy us daily. They insult 
us daily. By God, we shall end this shameful thing, 
If England can be ordered about by such people, she 
can be our friend no longer. We are all very sorry 
that our honourable friendship should terminate for 
such a paltry reason. But it is not our fault. Honour 
commands us to make war on Australia. Let us do 
so, and then we shall see. Let us make war against 
every one who helps Austraha. They say England 
will have to help her. If so, we may be beaten. 
We are not afraid to face our fate and may admit 
at once, therefore, that according to all human calcu- 
lation of probable events we shall be beaten by mighty 
England. That will not be a dishonour. The sons 
of Day Nippon do not quarrel with the inevitable. 
But do not let us drift into war. If Great Britain 
wants to fight us, not because of her own grievances, 
which do not exist, but because she has no will 
apart from the other portions of the Empire, well, 
let us strike the first blow with all our power, with 
all our heart." 

Other papers wrote in a similar strain. Moreover, 
Tokio gave an exhibition of its dreaded public opinion 
in another form. Crowds gathered in its streets and 
listened to popular orators denouncing the Common- 
wealth. Afterwards there were some riotous demon- 
strations. The Japanese Government did not forget 
to point to this occurrence as an expression of the will 
of the people. But another little incident had a far 
deeper effect on the temper of the British masses. It 
was reported by cable to the English Press that on 
December i8 a Japanese squadron, composed of three 
battleships of the Dreadnought type and two enor- 
mous cruisers, had paid a friendly visit at Weihawai, 
the British station at the entrance of the Gulf of 
Pechili. The same issue of the London morning 



BLACK CHRISTMAS 329 

papers which brought this item contained also a sum- 
mary of the first Federal statement and protest to the 
Imperial authorities about the Northern Territory 
affair, which was described tersely and correctly as a 
massacre. 

And that afternoon (December 19) the Japanese 
Ambassador demanded boldly an official apology on 
the part of the Commonwealth for the flogging of the 
eleven prisoners. He insisted that there was no justi- 
fication for the punishment, because the offence of 
which these men had been accused, even supposing 
that they had been guilty of it, was not one for which 
flogging was resorted to in civilized communities. It 
was an outrage, an incitement to bloodshed, and his 
nation was proud of the fact that it had been revenged 
instantly. But that was not enough. Japan, as the 
representative of the Asiatic races against which this 
foul insult had been levelled, regretted the necessity 
of having to ask its ally to exact satisfaction from the 
latter's dependency. This request was the crowning 
mercy of the record-breaking Far Eastern diplomacy. 
It did not only compel the Imperial authorities to 
take sides at once, but it determined the choice for 
them. The British people would never tolerate 
Ministers who shielded floggers. Everybody knows 
to-day, of course, that Colonel Ireton's method of 
dealing with cowardly assassins erred rather in the 
direction of leniency. But if he had shot the male- 
factors, he would have had a better chance \\dth the 
well-meaning, but insularly narrow-minded humani- 
tarians who rule the Empire in the last instance and 
who have an inherited horror of corporeal chastise- 
ment. 

That very influential section of the English Press 
which preaches Imperialism from a capitalistic point 
of view, and which would have smiled at the flogging 
of Asiatics if it had happened in India or in some other 



330 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

colony with approved conservative principles, had 
nothing to say to the Commonwealth. It did not 
even wax furious any more about the legislation 
passed by the Federal Parliament. Its readers, the 
wealthy classes of the United Kingdom and their 
hangers-on, had become resigned to the thought that 
Communism — as they termed it — must run its full 
course in Australia. They were no longer alarmed at 
any particular manifestations of those tendencies. 
In fact, they took such a hopeless view of Australian 
affairs that they were surprised at nothing — a state of 
mind which denotes the death of all sympathy. And 
their papers reflected the apathy and were only strong 
on one point : that the helpless and demoralized 
Commonwealth was now less than ever worth the 
risk of exposing the Heart of the Empire to danger. 

The great hope of the Australian people, over- 
whelmed with so many internal difficulties and stupe- 
fied by this new terrible blow, was a resurrection of 
sentiment in the sister dominions. If anything was 
able to fan into flame again the hatred of coloured 
races, it was surely an affront directed against a 
section of the Imperial defence forces. But the 
autonomous colonies were as tired of the interminable 
Northern Territory deadlock as the mother country. 
Before it was finally settled, London refused to lift 
colonial securities out of the slough of despondency 
or to find fresh funds, which were required most 
urgently. The ordinary citizens of those far-away 
dependencies did not understand the causes which 
compelled the Australians to hang back from the 
enemy, instead of rushing at him in the good old 
British style. They would have joined gladly in a 
willing, closely contested war. This melancholy 
stagnation, however, proved too much for them. 

Already in the evening of December i6 the 
Imperial authorities had preferred a peremptory 



BLACK CHRISTMAS 331 

demand that the Commonwealth should place the 
Northern Territory into their hands. The Federal 
Government, in its turn, asked for guarantees that 
the principle of the White Continent would be upheld. 
Its action was applauded by the whole nation. On 
December 19 Great Britain proclaimed a blockade of 
the whole Australian coast. Probably this step had 
been contemplated for some weeks, as the vessels of 
the Australian squadron, which were usually con- 
centrated at Sydney, had been distributed among 
the capital ports about a fortnight ago. Now the 
men-of-war left the harbours and stationed them- 
selves off the heads of the ports of Brisbane, New- 
castle, Sydney, Melbourne and Freemantle. Two 
gunboats cruised off Adelaide. No merchant ships 
were allowed to pass in or out. Never had a blockade 
been rendered more easily efficient. There was a 
subtle irony in it, too : Australia's subsidized navy 
was employed to coerce Australia. 

The blockade created consternation in the ranks 
of the Extremists. It interrupted completely con- 
nexion with Western Australia, Tasmania and 
Northern Queensland. If it should last for some 
time, old separatist hopes might be revived. More- 
over, the construction of the transcontinental rail- 
way to Port Darwin, which was wholly dependent on 
imports for its materials, would have to be stopped. 
On the other hand the Imperial statesmen, who had 
taken this desperate step, were secretly at least as 
anxious as the Federal politicians to terminate the 
blockade, which arrested absolutely the circulation 
of produce and was sure to bring about the entire 
economic ruin of the Commonwealth within a few 
weeks. Great Britain feared one thing — the repu- 
diation of the public debt by AustraHa. There was 
really little danger of it as long as any other chance 
remained of restoring the fortunes of the community. 



332 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

For even the most resolute Extremists, while impa- 
tient of personal privilege and private monopoly, 
were too patriotic to contemplate calmly the disgrace 
which the disavowment of obligations entered into 
voluntarily would bring upon the nation. But a 
prolonged blockade might force the Continent into 
bankruptcy. 

Under the circumstances it was natural that cable- 
grams were exchanged unceasingly between London 
and Melbourne. About noon on Christmas Eve it 
became known that a preliminary understanding 
had been arrived at and that the blockade was 
ended. That Christmas will never be forgotten in 
Australia. It was Black Christmas : Christmas of 
desolation. The open country was in the throes 
of a silent, merciless struggle. The harvest was 
in danger of being spoilt. Desperate landholders 
and farmers stopped short at nothing which would 
give them labour to prevent further damage. Men 
were hunted, trapped and, if they resisted, even 
killed like vermin. In retribution, many a fine 
homestead, many a grand wheat paddock blazed to 
the sky. In the big cities, people were hardly yet 
realizing the state of the interior. Still a few pre- 
cursory murmurs made themselves heard already. 
Soon they were destined to swell into another wild 
street roar of sympathy with the oppressed toilers, 
which would drown all excuses, every plea of 
necessity by the owners of the soil, and would pre- 
cipate the whole vexed, vital land problem for 
settlement by popular fury, suspicion and resent- 
ment. Buildings and streets, damaged in the riots, 
had fallen into disrepair. Many citizens, wealthy 
or well-to-do a short year ago, were beggared. 
Others, less unfortunate, did nevertheless feel beg- 
gared by comparison with their former standing. 
The principal financial institutions survived only by 



BLACK CHRISTMAS 333 

reason of protective Parliament ar}^ enactments. 
The rate of unemployment was frightful. A ma- 
jority of townspeople seemed to depend on casual 
jobs for a liveHhood. And all over the Continent 
there remained hardly a family which did not mourn 
the recent death of some dear member killed in the 
wars, the riots, by disease, famine, or by some other 
horror for which the great crisis was responsible. 
After the preliminary understanding had been 
announced, several weeks passed during which nego- 
tiations were carried on between London and Tokio, 
and between London and Melbourne. The final 
agreement was published on February 26, 1913, and 
contains the following clauses : 

1. The Commonwealth cedes part of the Northern 
Territory to Great Britain, viz., the district 
between AUigator River west and the Gulf of 
Carpentaria east, and between the Roper River 
south and the sea to the north, including Coburg 
Peninsula and all the islands within the limit 
of 50 miles from the main land, but with the 
exception of all islands in Van Diemen's Gulf 
and also of Groote Eylandt on condition that 
Great Britain guarantees never to cede this 
territory to any Foreign Power. 

2. The Commonwealth has no voice in the Govern- 

ment of the ceded territory, but if Great 
Britain should desire at any time to retire 
from the possession the Commonwealth is to 
have first option of requirement, before a 
separate State or Colony may be formed of it. 
The retirement of Great Britain shall not be 
permissible before the year 1940. 

3. Great Britain pays to the Commonwealth 
3^10,000,000 in consideration of this cession and 
will guarantee another Commonwealth loan of 



334 BIRTH-PANGS OF NATIONHOOD 

;^8,ooo,ooo extended over five years. The 
influence of the Imperial Government will also 
be used to facilitate the renewal of Australian 
loans falling due within the next five years. 

4. Great Britain recognizes the right of the Com- 
monwealth to exclude coloured races from its 
own territory. 

5. The laws passed by the Federal Parliament, 
which have not yet received the formal Royal 
assent, are to be submitted to a referendum of 
the people, and such as may be accepted by a 
simple majority will then receive the Royal 
assent. 

6. Great Britain acknowledges the Federal High 
Court to be in future the last instance in all 
civil disputes within the Commonwealth. 

The White Continent was now a memory of the 
past. But the White Commonwealth had at last 
become an acknowledged reality. In spite of its 
failure the defence of the greater ideal was not with- 
out beneficial results. Its very violence had de- 
stroyed the causes which underlay the failure and 
what had been saved had at least been saved on 
basic conditions which made the recurrence of for- 
mer mistakes and sins impossible. Above all, a 
long peace was wanted now. Australia required 
immigrants, time to recover breath, leisure to 
work out its destiny along the track blazed in the 
Terrible Year. Therefore a practically unanimous 
Parliament accepted the agreement against the 
chief principle of which it had waged heroic war in 
vain. 

It is impossible to review here the aftermath of the 
Commonwealth crisis — the prolonged economic con- 
vulsions, the agrarian excesses, and the slow, painful 



BLACK CHRISTMAS 335 

recovery. Suffice it to say that few outward traces 
of the national collapse remain to-day (1922). A 
rarely interrupted succession of good seasons has 
brought into full play the marvellous fertility of the 
soil. Again wealth is increasing, though the finan- 
cial burdens incurred in consequence of the Japan- 
ese invasion are pressing heavily. The transcon- 
tinental railway to Port Darwin has been completed 
and is now being linked up with the Eastern Hues. 
A great deal depends on successful white settle- 
ment in the North. So far little has been achieved ; 
perhaps the time has been too short. But it is the 
problem which in vital importance overshadows 
all others. For the alienated extreme Northern 
corner — Australia Irredenta — is flourishing with a 
hostile civilization. Under lenient British rule a 
new Japanese empire is in the making. Already 
it is said to contain, if the second generation is 
counted in, an Asiatic population of 200,000 souls. 
It is constructing railways and ports. A truce has 
been cried until 1940 a.d. Till then the Common- 
wealth must get ready for its relentless march to 
the North to save the purity of the race by sweep- 
ing the brown invaders back over the coral sea. 
The alternative is the irretrievable conquest of 
tropical Australia by the hordes of the Orient. In 
this struggle the still larger issue is bound up 
whether the White or the Yellow Race shall gain 
final supremacy. Christian civilization cannot 
afford the loss of this Continent, for Australia is 
THE Precious Front Buckle in the White Girdle 
OF Power and Progress encircling the Globe. 



the end. 



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